Women, Depression and Addiction

There is a close connection between depression and addiction in women. Depression is one of the most devastating psychological disorders a person can experience. Any substance that provides even momentary relief will be craved by the brain in a way that is much more powerful than conscious thought.

Women who suffer from depression are at an increased risk of becoming addicted to the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Opiates, including painkillers, morphine, opium and heroin
  • Cocaine, amphetamines and other stimulants
  • Benzodiazepines and prescription antidepressants
  • Sleeping aids
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Ecstasy

Even certain compulsive behaviors, such as exercise, sex, gambling, shopping, hoarding or self-injury, can accompany depression.

What Is Depression?

The brain manages a wide range of critical emotional functions through an intricate system of chemical signals and responses in the central nervous system. Slight imbalances in this system can be caused by any of the following things:

  • Hormonal changes related to aging
  • Chemical changes connected to menstruation
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by abuse, violence, crime or conflict
  • The sudden loss of a loved one
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-esteem deficiencies connected to body image
  • Relationship problems

This same part of the brain manages impulse control, emotional responsiveness, memory and the formation of habits. It will use all of these things and more to keep depression relief coming. Even substances that are not physically addictive, such as marijuana, can become psychologically addictive when used by a depressed person.

Treating Depression and Addiction in Women

Effective depression and addiction treatment must be comprehensive and fully integrated. The best programs offer a combination of therapeutic techniques designed to meet each woman’s unique needs. These will often include some of the following elements:

  • Various types of counseling therapies
  • Support group meetings in which patients are encouraged to help each other
  • Education about the causes and functioning of depression
  • Introduction to new emotional coping techniques and time spent putting them into practice
  • Medically supervised detox
  • Spiritual support and care
  • Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation and massage
  • Nutritional support
  • Family support and education programs

These programs are offered in quiet, caring environments that encourage healing, allow for focus and help women to become empowered to direct their own recovery. Many women define themselves by how well they care for others.

It can be difficult to allow themselves to focus on their own needs. These innovative and comfortable programs encourage a healthy sense of self. Only a woman who is healthy within her own mind and heart will be the effective nurturer to those she loves.