A depressed, mid-aged woman sits on her couch with her eyes closed and hands clasped close to her mouth.

How Does Depression Work in the Brain?

Living with depression can feel like you’re adrift in the ocean with no life vest and no rescue boat in sight. Like powerful waves hitting your face and controlling your every move, depression can feel commanding, terrifying and without end.

For those dealing with a substance use disorder, self-medicating to manage feelings of depression can sometimes seem like a viable way of coping with symptoms. While alcohol or drug use can provide short-term relief from depression, it consistently leads to severe substance addiction and even greater ongoing emotional issues. Understanding how depression affects you can help you find ways to manage it and recover from substance abuse.

How Depression Works in the Brain

Depression has been shown to literally alter your brain, changing the actual neural pathways and shrinking the size of your hippocampus – an area of the brain that regulates memory and emotions. Depression can make you feel foggy and exhausted, since your brain has to work harder to process information and feelings.

Research has shown that an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain can also contribute to depression. Fortunately, there are ways to restore this balance of brain chemicals and help alleviate symptoms. Holistic treatment interventions – including mindfulness training and nutritional management – are essential components to repairing existing neurological issues and alleviating feelings of depression.

Effects of Depression on the Brain

Problems with depression typically occur when excessive amounts of cortisol are sent to the brain due to stressful experiences or a chemical imbalance in the body. In a healthy brain, brain cells are produced throughout a person’s adult life in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus. However, in people with depression, the long-term exposure to increased cortisol levels can slow the production of new neurons and cause the neurons in the hippocampus to shrink.

This can lead to three identified issues that impact the brain:

• Brain Inflammation
Brain inflammation during depression is linked to the amount of time a person has been depressed. One recent study indicated that people depressed for more than 10 years showed 30 percent more inflammation compared to people depressed for less time. This type of long-term inflammation exacerbates a person’s feelings of depression, making the process cyclical and extremely difficult to break.

• Brain Shrinkage
Current studies have shown that the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex can be affected by excessive feelings of depression. When experiencing depression, these parts of the brain have been shown to shrink in response to the reduction in essential neurotransmitters that help the brain stay healthy. The amount these areas shrink is linked to the severity and length of the depressive episode that is experienced and vary from person to person.

• Oxygen Restriction
People who experience depression have also been shown to deal with reduced oxygen in the body. This is caused by alterations in breathing patterns, which are triggered by the excessive emotionality being experienced. This hypoxic reaction is directly related to depressive symptoms and can have an identifiably negative impact on your brain.

Addiction, Depression, and the Brain

The relationship between depression and substance abuse is co-occurring – meaning that people who struggle with substance addiction are more likely to experience depression. This routinely leads individuals to self-medicating or excessive substance use to lift their mood or escape from their feelings of hopelessness and despair.

The problem that people struggling with addiction run into is that a substance like alcohol actually increases feelings of sadness within a person. Alcohol may relieve symptoms for a short time, but once the high wears off, they’re left feeling worse than before.

If you are dealing with both depression and a substance addiction, then you are experiencing a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. This refers to any combination of addiction and mental health disorder (anxiety and depression) that’s impacting an individual’s life.

When a person struggles with substance abuse and a mental illness, the results can be devastating to both their physical and mental wellbeing. Fortunately, addiction treatment is available to address all aspects of your co-occurring disorder.

Holistic, Co-Occurring Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control over your actions, health and future. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic dual diagnosis treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.

To learn more about our life-changing co-occurring treatment programs or to begin your recovery contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

A woman sits on the couch dealing with anxiety after drinking.

How Does Drinking Impact My Anxiety Disorder?

Having a drink to take the edge off has become synonymous with most social interactions and relaxing after a long day. While consuming a few drinks can make you feel a bit more relaxed and at ease, using this as a primary method to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety is not only a bad idea, but it’s also a way to exacerbate symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder.

Imagine training your brain to only relax when it is given alcohol with no other means of deescalating personal anxiety. This would create a scenario where alcohol would be the sole method of controlling your anxiety in every social situation. This can lead to a co-occurring disorder that disrupts your ability to manage your job and personal life.

Does Drinking Make Anxiety Worse?

Since alcohol is known to act as a sedative, many people find themselves often drinking to achieve a level of relaxation. While alcohol may make you feel more socially confident at a get-together or help you forget your worries for a short time, there is a sinister side effect associated with drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Initially, drinking may reduce your fears and take your mind off your troubles. It may even give you a boost in mood and have you feeling generally relaxed. However, once you start drinking, you can quickly build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol.

This can subsequently make your anxiety and personal stress even more difficult to cope with as the flow of alcohol stops and your dopamine levels come back to normal. When those positive feelings go away, you’re left with feelings of excessive anxiety in their wake.

The hallmark of an anxiety disorder (which is persistent, overwhelming worry and fear) is directly related to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, like dopamine. Drinking excessively can make anxiety disorders worse by further disrupting that balance, leaving you with no other option than to continue drinking to control your anxiety when it flares up.

How Drinking Affects Anxiety

Recent studies have shown that out of every five people with anxiety, at least one person stated they often use alcohol to cope with their personal feelings of stress in a variety of situations.

Anxiety itself is a disorder that preys on your central nervous system, accelerating the heart rate, increasing blood flow, and pushing your brain into overdrive. In cases of extreme anxiety that require medical assistance, doctors routinely prescribe benzodiazepines, as they are central nervous system depressants.

For someone self-medicating to manage their anxiety, the effects that make benzodiazepines useful with severe anxiety disorders are the same effects that many experience when drinking excessively. That’s because alcohol changes the level of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in your brain, which can temporarily reduce your stress but inevitably worsens your anxiety over time.

Conditions like alcohol-induced anxiety can last for several hours, or even for an entire day after drinking due to your body’s attempt to correct the neurological damage associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This is directly related to your body attempting to process the alcohol you’ve consumed and the sedative effects wearing off.

This is also when you can begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms – like anxiety or agitation – and when a pre-existing anxiety disorder can severely flare-up. If you’re prone to social phobia, you might find yourself worrying about what you said or did the night before. If you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, you may wake in the middle of night (as the alcohol wears off) and lie awake worrying and feeling stressed.

That is why it is imperative to understand that drinking alcohol as a means of controlling your anxiety is not only a bad decision, it is also a direct line to developing a debilitating alcohol addiction and co-occurring anxiety disorder.1

Anxiety After Drinking: How Long Does Anxiety After Drinking Last?

The anxiety you feel after drinking can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days – depending on the amount of alcohol you drink and the longevity of your addiction. The fact of the matter is that drinking excessively changes the chemical makeup of your brain, increasing feelings of anxiety in people who never had it and exacerbating those feelings in someone who has dealt with excessive anxiety in the past.

At this point, the only real way to actually address both issues in a safe and secure manner is to seek co-occurring addiction treatment. With the knowledge and expertise offered at a treatment center, you can identify healthier methods of addressing your anxiety, decrease your reliance on alcohol, and improve how you manage your anxiety day-to-day.2

Individualized, Holistic Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

The self-perpetuating cycle you’re caught up in – of alcohol and anxiety – doesn’t have to rule your life forever. You can face your co-occurring hurdles head-on with professional help and individualized support at Ranch Creek Recovery.

Learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment program or contact us today to get your questions answered. We’re excited to tell you more about our all-encompassing approach to co-occurring disorder treatment.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

A businessman trying to find out if drug rehab is covered by insurance.

How to Find Out If Your Insurance Covers Rehab

The decision to enter into drug rehabilitation is not to be taken lightly. After struggling with substance addiction, beginning a competent and clinically sound treatment program can allow you to address the disease that has been destroying your mind, body, and soul.

The process of addiction recovery, though, is a difficult journey that will require a commitment to careful decision making, improved self-maintenance, and an overhaul of your personal social network. It will force you to confront the root of your addictive behaviors while forging new stress responses and decreased impulsive decision patterns.

Once you make the decision to get sober and start rehab, whether inpatient or outpatient treatment, the next step is to figure out how to cover the cost of addiction treatment.

Like any medical procedure, treating the disease of addiction can be a costly undertaking, so taking the time to understand if drug rehab is covered by insurance is essential in deciding which facility you should attend.

Is Drug Rehab Covered by Insurance?

The disease concept linked with addiction is fairly new within our society. About 40 years ago, addiction was finally identified as a diagnosable and treatable mental illness by the U.S. medical communities. This allowed society as a whole to stop seeing someone’s urge to abuse substances as a failing in good judgement – but stigmas still cloud the public perspective of those requiring specialized substance abuse treatment to curb their addictive impulses.

Does insurance cover rehab?

Due to this progressive identification of substance use disorders, new health care laws have followed suit and begun deeming addiction treatment as an essential health care benefit that commercial health plans must cover.

This new perspective fostered by the insurance industry has resulted in the number of patients seeking treatment for drug and alcohol problems to spike as the rolling healthcare reform measures have come into effect.

You can and should receive cost-effective and comprehensive addiction treatment if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. While plans will differ between carriers, educating yourself on the options and coverage provided by your insurance provider starts by researching your specific health plan.

Will Your Insurance Cover Rehab?

While your insurance company may not openly advertise their substance addiction coverage, as of now, 43 U.S. states require commercial group health insurers to cover addiction treatment.

If you or a loved one has made the decision to pursue drug rehabilitation, it is imperative to know how your individual insurance policy is worded and laid out in order to identify which treatment programs are covered.

You can start by looking at your health plan and parsing through the sections discussing substance abuse treatment and coverage. The wording in your policy should define a full continuum of addiction care, which includes detoxification, intervention, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment.

Policies will also discuss family coverage and codependency treatment which can facilitate family members pursuing treatment options for loved ones who may be too overwhelmed in their addiction to properly pursue a treatment intervention.

Alternative Ways to Pay for Rehab

With the exception of Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, all states – as previously mentioned – currently require commercial group health insurers to cover addiction treatment services as they would any other prescribed medical treatment.

Legislation like the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against patients because of their specific addiction, but it does not require all insurers to cover every available treatment facility and option.

If you are struggling to receive the necessary coverage from your insurance provider, or lacking in general coverage entirely, there are alternative options available.

Working with patient advocacy groups like the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can provide you with a wealth of knowledge in regard to available therapeutic resources and funding options.

The fact of the matter is that consuming all of the applicable insurance laws can be extremely overwhelming and leave you feeling lost and defeated. But how do you know if your insurance will cover rehab? One of the best ways to ease the burden of navigating insurance coverage is to directly contact the treatment facility you want to attend.

Most addiction centers have dedicated admission experts ready and willing to help you uncover how to afford addiction rehab. This will allow you to spend more time and effort on what is most important: your journey to sustained recovery.

Holistic Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

Offering an alternative to the traditional twelve step program, Ranch Creek Recovery offers a variety of all-encompassing, holistic in-patient treatment services. Your situation is unique; your treatment must be customized to fit your individual recovery needs.

Our admissions team is standing by and ready to help you uncover viable ways to pay for treatment.

You can quit your addiction. You can turn your life around. We’re here to help. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about accepted insurances, finance options, and much more.

Want to learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery? Discover what we offer and what we treat.

Do you already contend with an addiction because of your anxiety?

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

1. Psychology Today. Is Addiction Really a Disease? Accessed October 4, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-heart-addiction/201112/is-addiction-really-disease.
2. Partnership for Drug Free Kids. Number of People Seeking Addiction Treatment Could Double Under New Health Law. Accessed October 4, 2018. https://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/number-of-people-seeking-addiction-treatment-could-double-under-new-health-law/.
3. National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Continuum of Addiction Treatment. Accessed October 4, 2018. http://www.namsdl.org/continuum-of-addiction-treatment.cfm.
4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Addressing the Opioid Crisis. Accessed October 4, 2018. https://www.samhsa.gov/.
A businessman sits at the bar with a beer in hand.

Can Alcoholism Cause Anxiety Disorders?

For a vast number of people, consuming alcohol is a common part of everyday life. Whether tossing back a few beers after a long day at work or pouring a couple glasses of wine at dinner to take the edge off, drinking has become synonymous with unwinding and relaxing.

But at what cost has this maladaptive habit become engrained in over 16 million people’s lives within the U.S.?

With nearly 90,000 people dying annually from alcohol-related causes, alcoholism has solidified itself as one of the primary reasons of preventable death within the entire country.

While the physical dangers of alcoholism are obvious and glaring, the emotional instability and mental health issues attributed to excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders is an ever-expanding area of concern. In particular, feelings of excessive anxiety have been linked to alcohol addiction due to the widely accepted practice of treating stress with drinking and the physical impact that excessive alcohol consumption has on the human body.

But the question has been posed: Does alcoholism cause anxiety disorders? Diving deeper into this inquiry to separate fact from fiction can provide better insight into the origins of anxiety in relation to alcoholism and how to treat both sets of symptoms.

What is Alcoholism?

The disease of alcoholism is a chronic ailment in which a person is dependent on the substance in both a physical and emotional manner. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the primary source for all mental health and substance addiction diagnoses within the U.S., states that alcoholism creates a psychological need for alcohol within the addict.

It causes the person to lose control of their alcohol use while perpetuating an identifiable decline in both physical and social functioning. From there, alcoholism begins to erode the addict’s life, infect their social interactions, and devastate their overall physical and emotional wellbeing.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

While anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, an anxiety disorder creates an excessive level of fear and nervousness within a person. This elevated anxiousness typically forces a person to avoid normal social interactions and scenarios due to their unfounded fears and excessive worry.

This ongoing worry and tension may be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or problems sleeping. Often, the worries focus on everyday things, such as job responsibilities, family health, or minor matters like chores, car repairs, or appointments.

In general, for a person to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, their fear or anxiety must:

  • Be out of proportion to the situation or age inappropriate
  • Hinder their ability to function normally

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable, and a number of effective therapeutic interventions are available to those individuals seeking to address their persistent and excessive nervousness.

Can Alcohol Cause Panic Attacks and Anxiety?

Alcohol has a negative impact on both behavioral patterns and brain functioning. In particular, alcohol is a depressant which slows down the central nervous system, reduces a person’s alertness and causes them to feel excessively lethargic and emotionally unstable.

Chemically speaking, alcoholism dramatically lowers the level of serotonin within the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm and happy. These lowered levels of serotonin have been associated with increased feelings of excessive anxiety and an inability to correct the issue due to the deteriorating effects that alcohol has on the brain.

This can lead to random panic attacks, generalized anxiety and overall excessive emotionality for a person struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

How to Treat Alcoholism and Excessive Anxiety

The primary method of combating alcoholism and the excessive feelings of anxiety associated with the disorder is to decrease your alcohol consumption immediately. While this is no simple task, taking steps to address the disease can ease your transition into recovery and aid in achieving sustained sobriety.

  • First, identifying that a problem exists allows you to face your addiction and decide internally that a change is needed.
  • Second, it is important to thoroughly research potential treatment options and select one that works best for you and your living situation.
  • Third, working to distance yourself from negative peers and environments in which your addictive behaviors are triggered can help to decrease addictive impulses and negative decision patterns.
  • Lastly, fully committing to the recovery process and initiating treatment sets your sober goals in motion, giving you a new sense of purpose outside of your addictive past.

Following these simple steps can create the change within you that has been missing for so long. All it takes is that first step to embark on a journey of sustained sobriety and newfound happiness where your positivity can change your life and your potential is truly unlimited.

Do you already contend with an addiction because of your anxiety?

Do you feel your alcohol consumption exacerbates your anxiety and panic attacks?

Contact Us for Co-Occurring Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

What Is Co-Occurring Disorders

Diagnosing and Treating Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

It wasn’t too long ago that addiction was considered to be completely unrelated to mental illness and that treatment was best delivered in separate facilities specializing in each condition. These days we have grown in our understanding of addiction as a disease and recognize the correlation between mental health and addiction issues. Many people with addiction disease suffer a co-occurring mental health disorder and they can now be treated for both in a dual diagnosis program at a co-occurring disorders treatment center.

Co-occurring disorder treatment or dual diagnosis, as it is also known, is now a unique field in its own right. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, around 5% of Americans are affected by serious psychiatric disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and extreme anxiety, with one in five struggling with mental health issues at some level during their lifetime. Within that cross-section of Americans are approximately 7 million who are also dealing with alcohol and drug addiction, making this a critical issue that needs addressing urgently.

The Importance of Assessment and Evaluation

The first stage of dual diagnosis treatment deals with identifying the mental health conditions co-occurring with addiction. Assessment is undertaken in a counseling environment and it is often the very first opportunity a sufferer has had to communicate what they are going through. It is essential to get a complete picture of an individual’s medical history, family background, and socioeconomic circumstances in order to develop a better idea of the specific treatment required.

Some people have a pre-existing mental health condition that they have used alcohol or drugs in attempts to mask or reduce its distressing effects. When someone who is already being treated for a mental disorder, they can often develop a dependence on the meds prescribed to them which results in them requiring stronger doses in order to get the therapeutic effects. This can lead to someone turning to illegal or illicit drugs and consequently exposing themselves to more health risks including addiction.  Even more common is a patient with an undiagnosed mental health issue who turns to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

Other patients with addiction disease may display symptoms of mental health conditions as a result of prolonged substance abuse. Prolonged marijuana use is known to cause psychosis in some people and cocaine causes acute depression. Depending on the substances used, some of the symptoms experienced may become more acute and sustained over time and can deepen into a mental health disorder.

Assessment and evaluation includes a medical examination and allows clinicians to get the data they require to establish an accurate diagnosis of the mental health condition co-occurring with addiction and its origins. Whether mental health was present before someone became addicted to alcohol or drugs or the other way around, co-occurring treatment is required.

What is Dual Diagnosis or Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment?

Dual diagnosis treatment combines methodologies from the fields of psychiatry and addiction therapy for more effective relapse prevention than if a patient receives separate care of each condition. Addiction and mental health have a complex relationship and when someone has two conditions present at the same time; they interact with each other to create unique symptoms and characteristics. It is only by treating both co-occurring mental disorders in combination and at the same time that someone can go on to enjoy a fuller and healthier life after treatment.

There are several reasons it is crucial to treat addiction disease and co-occurring mental illness at the same time including the following:

  • There are side effects of mental health conditions that are less common in addiction. Integrated treatment deals with these side effects such as apathy, isolation and a low level of motivation.
  • Overall medication effectiveness is improved when both mental illness and addiction is addressed by a pharmacological plan created specifically for co-occurring mental disorders.
  • Individual and group therapy is particularly beneficial for people with co-occurring mental health disorders and provides them with access to a strong support network when treatment has been completed.

Treatment facilities for co-occurring mental disorders have specialist clinical staff on hand who have a complete understanding of the complex dance between addiction and mental health. Being in an environment with others in similar situations is empowering for many patients with co-occurring mental health disorders and can increase their chances of successful treatment considerably.