Tag Archives: Signs and Symptoms

The Link Between Addiction, Depression, And Suicide

The Link Between Addiction, Depression, And Suicide

Suicide is a major issue in the United States, and one of the leading causes of death among young adults. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States overall and the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2016. Approximately 45,000 people died from suicide in 2016 within the United States. Certain risk factors exacerbate suicidal thoughts and ideation among young people – and depression and addiction are at the top of the list.

Major Risk Factors For Suicidal Ideation

Major Risk Factors When someone makes the decision to commit suicide, they do not do so at random. Years of trauma can contribute to suicidal ideation, as well as abusing drugs and alcohol. Feelings of extreme sadness, pain, and trauma often push a person to take this action, much to the grief of their friends and family. While many people may think about suicide throughout their lives, certain risk factors and occurrences can increase someone’s chance of committing suicide.

Substance abuse is a major risk factor for suicide, especially if the person is also experiencing other mental disorders such as:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Other personality disorders

In addition, stressful life events can push someone into committing suicide. Poor social support, loneliness, isolation, and feelings of hopelessness also increase a person’s risk of suicide. In addition, a history of childhood abuse, chronic pain, and prior suicidal behavior are risk factors for suicidal ideation. Feelings of aggression and impulsivity can lead others to act upon their suicidal thoughts.

Substance abuse can seriously impact a person’s life, leading to the stressful life events and feelings of isolation and loneliness that can exacerbate suicidal ideation. Relationships can crumble and people who suffer from addiction can isolate themselves from other people in order to use drugs and alcohol. Addiction can also increase instances of aggression, impulsive decisions, and chronic pain. Many people use drugs and alcohol to cope from traumatizing events in their past – making them susceptible to suicide.

How To Identify Suicide Warning Signs

Suicidal ideation does not exist in a bubble, especially if someone you know is suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Each person who experiences suicidal ideation will express their feelings in a different way. Some people may exhibit no warning signs at all, while others will show some of the classic signs of suicide.

However, if you notice that someone you love is exhibiting any of the following warning signs of suicide, you should not ignore them.

  • Exhibiting extremely anxious or agitated behavior
  • Using heavy amounts of alcohol and drugs
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Not participating in hobbies and other activities that they previously enjoyed
  • Expressing a desire to die or an interest in death
  • Engaging in reckless, dangerous behavior
  • Engaging in self-deprecating and self-critical talk
  • Suffering from insomnia
  • Exhibiting extreme irritability
  • A sudden, sharp decrease in their work and academic performance
  • Suddenly giving away personal and sentimental belongings
  • Evidence of self-harm on their body, such as cuts or burn marks

How To Help Someone Who Is Addicted And Suicidal

Helping someone who is struggling from addiction, depression, and suicidal ideation is not an easy task. Offering to help them seek treatment may feel like an attack or confrontation, while leaving them alone could increase their feelings of isolation. The best way to approach someone who is suffering from suicidal ideation and addiction is in a calm, measured, and prepared manner.

Pay attention to the warning signs that make you think they may be thinking about suicide. What is different about their behavior, actions, and overall persona? Has there been a sudden change after a traumatic event, or have you seen them gradually get worse over time? Knowing the reasons why you want to help them will aid you in your approach.

Approach your loved one calmly and with a great deal of care. Tell them that you are there for them, and they can tell you about whatever is on their mind. When someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts and addiction, they can feel trapped in their own thoughts and fall away from reality. By expressing their thoughts and feelings to you, they can bring themselves closer to reality. In addition, knowing exactly what is on their mind can help you make better decisions on how to help them. Remind your loved one that their life matters, that you care about them, and you want to help.

Offer to help your loved one contact a professional and seek psychiatric treatment. They may refuse to seek treatment for a number of reasons, including guilt, shame, and embarrassment. If you believe they need treatment, contact the professionals on their behalf. Accompany your loved one to the hospital and any treatment programs they may attend, and spend time with them. By establishing yourself as a consistent presence in their life, you can become a source of strength and someone to rely on – which a person who is struggling with addiction and suicidal thoughts needs to survive.

Seek Help For Addiction Today

Although addiction and depression can exacerbate suicidal thoughts and actions, help is available. Certain protective factors can reduce suicidal ideation in people struggling from addiction, and the first step is to seek professional help through a drug and alcohol treatment program. The following factors can reduce suicidal ideation in young adults struggling with addiction:

  • Being clean and sober from drugs and alcohol
  • Attending regular substance abuse support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs
  • Receiving mental health care from a trusted counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist
  • Identifying reasons for living
  • Believing in a higher power and adopting spiritual beliefs
  • Having stable relationships and responsibilities, such as employment and parenthood

You can achieve many of these protective factors by attending a drug and alcohol treatment program. If you are struggling with addiction anywhere in the United States, you are not alone. This issue impacts millions of people across the country. Help is available to aid you in reducing your dependency on the substance, manage withdrawal symptoms, and begin the path to recovery.

Seek treatment at a professional drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility as soon as possible. For additional resources on managing addiction and recovery, visit Echo Recovery today.

Addiction And Sleep Disorders: A Common Struggle

Addiction And Sleep Disorders: A Common Struggle

If you are recovering from an addiction to drugs and alcohol, you know that the road to recovery is full of challenges. You have to manage cravings, stave off relapses, handle withdrawal symptoms, and rebuild relationships, among many other tasks. However, one of the most common and most stressful issues that people in recovery face is sleep disorders. Not being able to sleep can heighten your chances of relapse and make recovery even more difficult – but there are strategies you can use to manage your sleep and get the rest you need.

What Happens To Your Sleep In Recovery?

According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, people in recovery are 5 times more likely to suffer from insomnia than the general population. People in recovery are mainly at risk for these sleep disorders because of the complex psychological issues that occur when coming off of a substance, especially if you used this substance to help you fall asleep in the past. Sleep disorders can range during recovery – you may only deal with them during the withdrawal period, or you can keep experiencing them for weeks, months, or even years after recovery.

When it comes to addiction, you can experience long-lasting effects that impact your physical and mental health. Anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions contribute to insomnia – and these issues are also common side effects during the recovery process. Unfortunately, sleep disorders can also feed into the risk of relapse, making recovery even more difficult.

First, you may have used the substance you are recovering from to help you sleep in the past. Now that you are clean from this substance, you cannot rely on it to fall asleep. In addition, you may be battling with very unpleasant side effects while in recovery – anxiety, depression, stress, and fear are some of the most common. As a result, it is more difficult for you to fall asleep at night.

Since it is more difficult to fall asleep, the sleep disorder exacerbates some of your recovery side effects. In particular, insomnia makes anxiety, depression, and stress even worse. You feel irritable, overtired, and like you cannot perform your daily functions – and your stress levels go through the roof.

You may think that old coping mechanisms, such as drug and alcohol use, are looking like a better decision. Since you are suffering from sleep deprivation, you could have more impulsive tendencies and want to end your discomfort as soon as possible. You could run the risk of relapsing at this point, or you could continue to suffer from sleep issues. However, a third option is available: using healthy methods to improve your sleep.

How Does Addiction Impact Your Sleep?

While sleep disorders in recovery are common, it is likely that you have experienced trouble sleeping before. Addiction itself can worsen your sleeping habits. Depending on the type of substance you used, you could impact your brain chemistry and sleep cycles. In addition, addiction withdrawal symptoms can also reduce your quality of sleep.

Because of the changes that drugs and alcohol make to your body, it can be very difficult to develop healthy sleeping habits while on these substances. Recovery and healthy sleep methods are the best options.

Addiction throws your natural body clock out of its rhythm – you often stay up very late in the night and wake up very late in the day. Drugs can also impact the time you spend in REM sleep, which reduces your feelings of restfulness in the morning. It takes longer to fall asleep when you are addicted to a substance, and you will reduce your overall sleep time because you often wake up during the night.

Tips For Improving Sleep While In Recovery From Addiction

While sleep disorders are often unavoidable in addiction recovery, it doesn’t mean that you cannot get a good night’s sleep. Follow these tips to enjoy a better night’s sleep and naturally improve your symptoms:

  • Exercise plays an important role in regulation your sleep cycles and increasing your relaxation during the day. In addition, exercise produces natural endorphins that can aid in your recovery journey. Performing 15 to 30 minutes of exercise about 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed can have a great impact on your ability to fall asleep.
  • Meditation can also aid in helping you fall asleep, especially if anxiety or intrusive thoughts play a role in your insomnia. With consistent practice, you can reduce your stress and help you focus on the present, both of which can help you fall asleep easier.
  • You can change your sleep environment to promote relaxation and aid you in falling asleep. If your mattress is uncomfortable, invest in a new one and supply it with supportive pillows, new blankets, and clean sheets. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Invest in a white noise machine to block out intrusive noises.
  • Using electronic devices right before bed can make it harder to fall asleep, since the blue light can block the release of your sleep hormones. Enable night mode to lower your exposure to this light before bed or avoid screens completely in the hours before you fall asleep.
  • A poor diet can also make it more difficult to get some rest, in addition to increasing stress and discomfort. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, fat, spice, and caffeine after midday. Incorporate foods that promote sleep, such as legumes, leafy green vegetables, dairy products, and meats, into your diet. Avoid eating large, heavy meals late at night.
  • Establishing a regular bedtime routine can also help you fall asleep easier. Having a regular schedule allows you to develop a ritual that can help you combat insomnia and promote relaxation. Avoid doing anything other than sleeping and relaxing in your bed. Go to bed and wake up around the same times every day, including weekends. Perform relaxation activities before bed, such as meditating, doing some light yoga, taking a warm bath, or reading a book.

If you are still struggling from a sleep disorder during recovery, visit a medical professional as soon as possible. If you find yourself struggling with a sleep disorder due to addiction, seek professional treatment from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. For more information on pursuing your recovery journey, visit Echo Recovery today to gain valuable resources from others like you.

Young Millennials Are More Depressed and At Risk for Addiction Than Ever - ECHO Recovery

Teens and Young Millennials Are More Depressed and At Risk for Addiction Than Ever

One Picture of Anxiety in Millennials

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Baker took her own life in her bathroom, leaving her distraught parents to find her lifeless body and wonder why. Hannah defined the why by making an audio diary on 13 cassette tapes and asking that they be circulated among those she holds responsible for her suicide in the Netflix show (and preceding novel) “13 Reasons Why.”

Hannah is a beautiful, smart girl with loving parents and a bright future. And yet, like so many of our teens in the U.S., she kills herself. The decline into anxiety and depression — terms used interchangeably by today’s teens — is a grading slope of despair.

Suicide doesn’t happen because of just one thing, one emotion, one event. Depression is a subtly dangerous illness that gradually takes over.

Though Hannah Baker’s story is fictional, the depth of pain from the epidemic of teen depression is all too real for many families today.

In fact, today’s teens and younger millennials are struggling with anxiety and depression more than any previous generation on record. Studies show millennials suffer from anxiety at a much higher rate than preceding generations. Subsequently, the suicide rate among adolescents in the U.S. is climbing more than ever.

Millennials and Depression

Suicidal tendencies are a marker of depression and anxiety. Much has been documented about millennials being delicate and having many worries despite having protective helicopter parents.

Studies do not provide a definitive answer as to why there is this continuing rise in depression in adolescents and young adults; however, mental health professionals speculate several factors contribute to the issue:

  • Many experts say teens are using more drugs and alcohol, which cause mood changes, anxiety and depression.
  • An electronically based society, with almost everyone owning a smartphone.
  • Growing up among so many school shootings.
  • Worry for one’s family finances.

Some professionals say we are raising our kids with unrealistic expectations and that having a kid-centered culture has shielded them from learning how to deal with the normal challenges of life. Raising our children with the idea they can do anything, meanwhile providing everything, fosters an era of entitlement.

Is Entitlement to Blame?

Modern society teaches young people that their possibilities are endless. However, the blessing of limitlessness brings with it the curse of too many choices, paralyzing the individual who has anxious tendencies.

In some cases, this kind of upbringing facilitates an entitlement attitude. This is a mindset of deserving everything without putting forth the effort to achieve it. As children grow into adolescents and young adults, thoughts of not being good enough to attain all that we expect of them and facing a life of making it on their own are overwhelming.

In many ways, there is more stress now than in previous generations. Stress triggers depression, anxiety and mood disorders.

During the difficult time of hormonal and brain changes during adolescence, most teens experience some symptoms of depression and anxiety from time to time. If a teenager is predisposed to mental health issues due to genetics, his or her risk of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol issues increases.

Millennials: Depression Stats

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) survey, which monitors unhealthy and risky behaviors among youth and young adults. Behaviors that indicate depression and/or suicidal ideation are included.

Here are some facts gathered by the YRBSS regarding anxiety and depression in adolescents and young adults:

  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 24 years old.
  • American students in grades 7 through 12 make an average of 5,240 suicide attempts per day.
  • More people die of suicide than homicide in the U.S.
  • Only 30 percent of depressed teens are getting treatment.
  • Suicide-related behavior among American teens has steadily increased from 2009 to 2017.

Another study conducted by Jean Twenge, Ph.D., professor of psychology at San Diego State University, shows that 5 times as many high school and college students deal with anxiety now than the same age group did during the Great Depression!

The Impact of Screen Time

Modern lifestyles – less family support, living with fewer people, less exercise, less outdoor sun exposure and more computer/phone time – play a huge role in changes from traditional values toward more mental health problems.

The impact of screen time on our youth contributes to anxiety in the following ways:

  • Social media encourages insecurities: Cyber bullying, slander, comparing oneself to others, and the feeling of needing to look perfect online all contribute to low self-esteem and insecurity.
  • When adolescents and young adults want to avoid the stress of real life, school or interactions with real people, they can easily escape into their smartphones.
  • It is a known fact that the use of electronic devices for more than 2 hours a day creates mild depression.

This is not an all-inclusive list, as much has been written about the effects of the use of electronic devices among young people.

Risks for Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Millennials And Depression Statistic Before Adulthood - ECHO RecoveryBecause of the increased rates of depression and anxiety among today’s youth, our young people are more at risk of self-medicating and addiction than ever. More and more addiction treatment centers are offering programs focused on addressing anxiety in adolescents and young millennials to meet the needs of our current climate.

The pain of anxiety and depression in young adults drives many to self-medicate. It is difficult for someone suffering with depression to reach out for help. Millennials look to ease their pain any way they can, often turning to substances to make them feel better. At a young age, it is easy to find peers using drugs or getting alcohol underage.

For lack of better options or the embarrassment of coming forward to acknowledge their anxiety, adolescents that start using substances to relieve psychological pain can easily become addicted. Alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs carry a high risk of abuse and addiction.

If someone with anxiety or depression develops an addiction, they will have what is called a dual diagnosis. These kind of cases requires specialized treatment for both issues.

Higher Risk Factors for Teen Depression

Some teens have higher-than-average risk factors for depression, addiction and suicide. In addition to a genetic predisposition as previously mentioned, some of these factors include:

  • Having a psychiatric illness without receiving adequate treatment — the highest risk for suicide
  • Being abused or neglected
  • Suffering from chronic illness
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Regularly consuming alcohol
  • Regularly using illicit or prescription drugs

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Do you worry that your teen or young adult child might be struggling with depression, anxiety or a related psychiatric disorder? Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between what is normal moody behavior and when something is truly awry.

There are some warning signs and symptoms to look for in your child or loved one:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Low self-esteem or acting overly self-conscious
  • Eating disorder symptoms or not caring about appearance (lack of hygiene or changes in appearance)
  • Problems in school (lower grades, getting in trouble)
  • Scars, self-harm or cutting
  • Lack of interest in activities and alienating oneself from people
  • Interest in or talking about death

This is not a comprehensive list of warning signs. Anytime you have concerns about these symptoms or others, do not hesitate to ask questions. When it comes to mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse or potential suicide, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Getting Help

Depression and anxiety are serious conditions. Threats of suicide should always be taken seriously.

If you need personally need help for depression or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 1-800-SUICIDE.