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Depression is a psychological disorder that affects millions of people every year. Everybody has experienced depressive episodes which includes feeling sad or overwhelmed. However, clinical depression is when those feelings do not go away on their own when the stress of the situation is over or perhaps when nothing has caused the person to feel the depressive feelings; they are just there. The causes for depression vary and can include genetics, personality, chemical imbalances, or reactions to stressful situations.

Depression - Clinical Diagnosis

Many people with depression are not clinically diagnosed. This is because there could be other symptoms that mimic other illnesses such as physical illnesses or the person who is depressed may not understand what depression is which would result in not seeking the help they need. Physical pain is often a sign of depression and oftentimes, doctors treat only the pain without looking at the mind.

There are four types of depression and two of the common types include major depression and bipolar depression. Major depression is having depressed feelings all the time whereas bipolar depression is when a person can go from high and erratic moods to very low depressive moods. These are very two different types of depression that must be treated in a different way.

“According to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) (Talbott, 1987), at least 50 percent of the 1.5 to 2 million Americans with severe mental illness abuse illicit drugs or alcohol, compared to 15 percent of the general population.” (Sciacca, para 1) Dual Diagnosis is gaining attention and the need to combine substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment is needed desperately. Many people are being only treated for one and not the other which greatly affects their probability of recovery.

It is vital for professionals to fully recognize if the patient meets the criteria for both disorders. The treatment process for someone who has only a substance abuse problem would be different than someone who has depression and a substance abuse problem. However, the reverse is just as important. It would not be beneficial to treat someone for substance use and depression if they didn’t meet the criteria for depression. In fact, it could be detrimental.

Mental health professionals and chemical dependency professionals need to work together to successfully treat patients. It can be very tricky to properly diagnose and dual diagnose patients. Cross training professionals is important and can be beneficial in this field. Recognition and education is very imperative and can save many lives.
On a personal level, this information definitely brought awareness about depression and the link to substance abuse and chemical dependency. I understood the two separately but what I have learned is that treating each disorder separately will not work. This is why it is important for people like me to be fully educated on the subject before working with clients.

Sciacca, Kathleen. "An Integrated Treatment Approach for Severely Mentally Ill Individuals with Substance Disorders." 1996. Web. 2011.
Donald Ph.D., Franklin J. "Depression Information and Treatment." Psychology Information Online - Your Internet Resource about the Practice of Psychology. 2003. Web. 18 Oct. 2011..