Feelings of depression are very likely during withdrawal and the early stages of sobriety. It is important to speak with a professional about feelings of depression to determine the best course to take to manage the symptoms, as depression can easily lead one toward relapse. Symptoms of depression can occur at any point, but are more likely to peak during acute withdrawal and slowly fade overtime. During treatment, depression can hold us back from being able to properly engage in recovery programs. According to the National Institute of Health, “When they occur, depressive symptoms can interfere with clients’ recovery and ability to participate in treatment. For example, someone with a depressive symptom such as poor concentration may have more difficulty paying attention to group therapy sessions or listening to another member share experiences in a 12-Step meeting.” If our symptoms of depression are interfering with our ability to absorb information, we are less likely to be able to receive effective treatment for our addiction and alcoholism problems. Substances change the chemistry of our brains. As a result, when the substance is removed we may face severe physical and emotional discomfort for a short period. Depression and anxiety are very common when withdrawing from opiates and stimulants, as these drugs create strong physical dependence. The most severe withdrawal symptoms usually resolve after about one week, but then we may continually experience some symptoms during the following weeks or months. This continuation of symptoms, known as Post-Acute Withdrawal, is much milder than the acute phase, but we may experience seemingly random feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. In a 2015 Psychology Today article, Detoxing After Detox: The Perils of Post-Acute Withdrawal, Dan Mager explains, “Post-acute withdrawal varies in intensity and duration from one person to another; again, usually in correlation with the intensity and duration of one’s substance use. Its manifestations can fluctuate in severity, coming and going in wave-like recurrences, and include impairments in energy, concentration, attention span, memory, sleep, appetite, and mood—most commonly anxiety, irritability, anger, and depression.” These symptoms are manageable, but without seeking help we may find ourselves in danger of seeking relief in alcohol and drugs.
You are not alone in experiencing depression in early sobriety. Seeking professional help for addiction and mental health problems is the first step toward finding a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment facility in beautiful Laguna Beach, is staffed with experienced professionals dedicated to aiding you through the process of physical, psychological, and spiritual healing. For more information about individualized treatment options, including Detox and Residential Treatment, please call today: (877) 279-1777