The addictive nature of depression

Addiction:

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming

Searching for depression and addiction will return you endless discussions and studies on whether patients can, and do, become addicted to antidepressants. Change your search term a little, dig a bit deeper and you'll find the occasional piece, and a few Reddit threads, on the addictive nature of the illness rather than the treatment.

I previously described depression as entrenched, familiar, and almost comforting, so when I found the Reddit threads I instantly identified with the sentiments many expressed.

But there is a dichotomy that exists, a contradiction.

Welcomed but equally resented, depression can all too easily become the go to state, especially when accompanied by feelings of inadequacy or a sense of guilt at being happy during the better days; almost a position of "I don't deserve this."

There is something called the DAD effect - Depression, Addiction, Denial - which states that depression and addiction often present at the same time but it can be difficult to ascertain which came first and, therefore, which to focus treatment on. Is an addiction (gambling, substance abuse, etc.) the cause of the depression or is it a response to (or attempt to escape from) the depression? An addiction to the depression itself, however, is almost never considered.

While it seems counterintuitive to suggest that someone can be addicted to depression, the entrenchment experienced fits the definition; one can indeed become "enslaved" and it can be psychologically habit-forming. Depression is a ready made excuse, a perfect get out clause: if anything goes wrong then that's why; if anything looks daunting then this is the reason - and, conversely, the reason to avoid it.

The challenge is to get away from this pattern, to stop reinforcing negative thought patterns and feel that you do deserve it. That this shouldn't be the default position.

The deeper and longer you sink the harder it is to swim back to the surface.

As this article on the BBC website explains cultural "norms" can make it especially difficult for men to stand up and say they need help. Men are just supposed to get on with it, be strong and "man up" if they can't.

But that's dangerous, it creates a state of fear. Fear of failure. Fear that you won't be taken seriously. Fear that there's something wrong with you (when there obviously is.) Fear to admit you need help.

But it's not just a man thing. It can affect everyone.

I wrote before about being in denial of my condition, that there was something wrong and that I needed help. The DAD effect was complete. While I am no longer in denial (mostly) I still struggle with the D and A and need to break the cycle so that's where I want to direct my efforts and will cover in future posts.

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