Dual diagnosis is the term used to identify when an individual is suffering from a mood or mental disorder while simultaneously struggling with an addiction.
Historically, mental health conditions and addiction have been treated separately. Dual diagnosis is necessary because these two issues usually occur in tandem. Studies have consistently shown that being diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder or a mental condition places the individual at a higher risk for the other. Among clinical samples, an estimated 40% of adults seeking treatment for a mental health condition also suffer from alcohol and/or drug dependence.
In dual diagnosis, both the mental or behavioral disorder are defined along with getting to the root of the addiction problem. The difficulty of the situation is how co-occurring disorders interact. People suffering with mental or behavioral disorders will often self medicate to temporarily feel better, and this can lead into substance abuse. Substance abuse can leave a person feeling depressed, anxious, nervous, and even suicidal. This leaves health care professionals to decipher what came first, the substance abuse or the mental health disorder. In order to get proper treatment and care, one must be honest with his/herself and with their healthcare provider.
The most common co-occurring disorders are:
You cannot diagnose yourself, but knowing the signs and symptoms of mood disorders may assist you in the decision to seek help.
Symptoms of Depression
- Feeling like nothing will ever go right
- Not able to concentrate or make decisions
- Fatigue and constant exhaustion
- Feelings of sadness, crying a lot
- Constant worry and anxiety
- Not wanting to socialize
- Bodily aches and pains
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feeling hopeless
- Thoughts of death or suicide or Symptoms of Mania
- Extreme optimism
- Racing thoughts and speech
- Impulsive decisions
- Increased physical and mental energy and activity
- Decreased need for sleep
- Aggressive behavior
- Reckless behavior
- Delusional thinking
Manic depression, or bipolar disease is the fluctuating between depression and mania. If a person has three or more of the above symptoms, or if these symptoms are interfering with daily life, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare practitioner.
It is a good idea to get a clear picture of what is going on internally.
The first step in getting better and living a healthier life, physically, emotionally, and mentally, is to stop using substances. Withdrawing from drugs and/or alcohol may also cause some of the above symptoms. Once the body has detoxed, deeper lying issues can then be attended to.
Dual diagnosis is important because when a mental health disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. This can be the cause of drug/alcohol relapse. And, when a drug or alcohol abuse problem continues, mental health issues get worse. The two go hand in hand and should be treated accordingly.
It may take time to diagnose what may be a mental disorder and what may be symptoms of substance abuse.
Keep in mind that neither of these issues are character flaws, or anything to be embarrassed about. These problems do not go away by being ignored.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2019). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Adaa.org. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, January 7). Schizophrenia – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic; Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with co-occurring disorders, please contact us at (888) 989-9690. Our trained professionals are here to guide and assist you in leading a healthier, happier life.