The Comorbidity of Alcohol Abuse and Depression

According to the National Institute of Health, comorbidity is the presence of more than one distinct condition in an individual. The term condition encompasses a broad spectrum of health issues, including mental and physical disorders, illnesses and diseases. Within the study of psychiatry, comorbidity is often referred to as dual diagnosis, and two of the most prevalent comorbid conditions plaguing society today are alcohol abuse and depression.

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are both classified as alcohol use disorders, and according to Medline Plus, it is estimated that nearly 18 million American adults suffer from some type of alcohol disorder. Alcoholism is a disease that is a subtype of the broader category commonly known as addiction. Alcoholism differs from alcohol abuse in that its sufferers are physically dependent on alcohol, meaning they cannot function without it and experience symptoms of withdrawal when they do not have alcohol in their system. When an individual is diagnosed with alcohol abuse, on the other hand, they are not physically dependent on it, however, they engage in certain high-risk behaviors involving alcohol such as binge drinking and increased tolerance.

It is completely normal to feel sad, lonely or unmotivated as a reaction to certain life events – such as losing a loved one, losing a job, going through a divorce – but when these feelings are prolonged for an extended period of time, oftentimes becoming overwhelming and manifesting into physical symptoms, it is generally an indication of clinical depression. It is estimated, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that around 16 million American adults suffer from some sort of depression. When it comes to the comorbidity of depression and alcohol abuse, how are they related?Los Angeles dTMS therapy for depression

WebMD estimates that more than one third of individuals who suffer from clinical depression also suffer from some sort of alcohol abuse. Clinicians have spent years researching the link between the two disorders, trying to answer the age old question of what comes first – alcohol abuse or depression? The answer is not that simple, as often the disorders feed into each other, but research has revealed that more often than not, depression comes first, triggering alcohol abuse. While alcohol is a depressant, its immediate effects can be euphoric and mood-enhancing for those seeking to relieve their depression by self-medicating with the temporary high of alcohol. Depression and alcohol abuse share several risk factors that pre-dispose their co-morbid sufferers to both disorders. There is a definite genetic link between addiction and mental illness, elevating the risk that an individual who suffers from one condition becomes more susceptible to the other. Environmental triggers such as trauma, loss or stress will often cause symptoms of both disorders to manifest themselves as the brain attempts to cope with these emotional disruptions. Studies have also revealed that several common psychiatric disorders, including depression and addiction, affect the same region of the brain. This area of the brain is collectively linked to what is referred to as executive functioning, which controls how an individual functions in day to day life; this can include everything from maintaining self-control to completing simple tasks.

For individuals who suffer from these two comorbid conditions, the good news is the pathological similarities they share make it possible to manage the symptoms of both using many of the same treatments. Individuals have found relief from both illnesses through the utilization of pharmaceutical and talk therapy, along with lifestyle changes centered on avoiding events that trigger episodes of alcohol abuse as well as depression.

A new treatment has recently gained a good reputation for helping to eliminate depression symptoms, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS). Developed by Brainsway, this is an FDA-approved depression treatment, which is non-invasive and affordable. For those seeking Los Angeles depression treatments, Westside Neurotherapeutics can provide dTMS. For more information, contact the company by phone at 310.946.0008 or online at

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