Sobriety can be challenging, especially when an individual is dealing with outside issues or everyday life stressors. Sometimes, balancing work, family, and the maintenance of sobriety can become extremely overwhelming. This can cause individuals to develop or experience worsening symptoms of depression. Additionally, many individuals in recovery from substance abuse suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions. In fact, in 2014, 7.9 million American adults suffered from both a substance use disorder and an additional mental health condition. With that being said, depression is known to be one of the most common mental health conditions that individuals in recovery suffer from.

Since many individuals deal with depression in sobriety, it is vital to learn how to fight against depression in healthy manners. If an individual is ill-equipped to deal with their depression, they may end up relapsing in order to self-medicate their symptoms. In order to prevent relapse, individuals must develop healthy coping mechanisms and tools to fight against depression. Fortunately, there are many methods available to fight against depression in sobriety. If you or a loved one are currently dealing with depression in sobriety, read more to learn how to find relief today!

What is Depression?

Clinical depression is a mental health condition that is treatable through therapy, learning healthy coping mechanisms, and/or medication-management. Many individuals confuse typical sadness or grief with clinical depression. However, sadness and clinical depression are distinguished by the severity of one’s feelings, the amount of time an individual feels sad or hopeless, and whether or not it has impacted their daily life.

According to the DSM-5, an individual with clinical depression will possess 5 or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks:

  • A depressed mood during most of the day, especially in the morning
  • You feel tired or have a lack of energy almost every day.
  • You feel worthless or guilty almost every day.
  • You have a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making decisions.
  • You can’t sleep or you sleep too much almost every day.
  • You have almost no interest or pleasure in many activities nearly every day.
  • You think often about death or suicide (not just a fear of death).
  • You feel restless or slowed down.
  • You’ve lost or gained weight.

Individuals with depression may also feel irritable and restless, as well as having sad, empty, or anxious feelings. Additionally, depression can cause individuals to lose interest in life, so much so that they can stop eating altogether. Depression can also cause physical symptoms, such as aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t go away or get better with treatment. If you are suffering from depression in sobriety, you must lean into your recovery maintenance methods as well as seek professional help.

How Can I Cope With Depression in Sobriety?

Fortunately, there are many practical ways you can cope with depressive symptoms without picking up a drink or a drug. Let’s take a look at a few.

Reach Out to Sober Support

Because recovery is a social program, individuals are taught the importance of reaching out to their peers for help. Individuals should build a support system of sober friends who are there to listen, give advice, and provide emotional support. Because of this, individuals who are experiencing depression in sobriety should always reach out to their sober supports. Depression in sobriety is very common, therefore, it should be fairly easy to find vital advice and learn healthy coping mechanisms from your friends in recovery.

Keep a Journal

Another great tool for coping with depression in sobriety is journaling. In fact, journaling is one of the most suggested and recommended tools among mental health professionals. This is because by writing down your thoughts and feelings, you are able to achieve an unbiased outlook on your situation. This allows individuals to understand that their emotions are valid while teaching them how to work through their feelings independently. Additionally, journaling your feelings on unfortunate or traumatic situations has been known to jumpstart the processing phase of recovery. Therefore, journaling your feelings of depression in sobriety can allow you to take a direct look at your feelings and eventually move on from them.

Redirect Your Attention

Oftentimes, depression consumes a person’s entire life. This is extremely detrimental to those in recovery, as they may begin to neglect the maintenance of their sobriety. If you find that your depression is consuming your life, you may benefit from redirecting your attention to something positive. This includes picking up a new hobby, exercising, volunteering in your community, and many other positive activities.

Seek Professional Help

Depression is a mental health condition, and because of this, sometimes it requires professional treatment. If you are suffering from depression in sobriety, it may be time to seek professional psychiatric help. Oftentimes, many individuals feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health condition, causing them to resist professional treatment. This can be extremely detrimental, as clinical depression in sobriety can lead to relapse or even untimely death.

If you are suffering from depression in sobriety, you are not alone. Many individuals opt for professional mental health treatment in order to treat their depression and maintain their sobriety. Attending therapy or taking medication for depression allows many individuals to beat their depression, continue their journey of sobriety, and live happy lives.