After an alcoholic quits drinking, it is extremely common for them to experience signs of depression. Once you remove the substances from an alcoholic or an addict’s body, the issues that they were attempting to bury will begin to come to light. Dealing with trauma or negative experiences head-on can cause a lot of mixed emotions, especially when you are used to numbing your feelings through substance abuse. It can take time for your mind and body to adjust to sobriety.
Depression after recovery from alcoholism can be managed, and typically subsides quickly after therapy, applying healthy coping mechanisms, and sometimes through the utilization of medication. It is important to take your depression seriously and treat it promptly in order to fully reap all of the benefits sobriety has to offer.
1. Create a Daily Schedule
Having a set schedule for each day can prove extremely helpful to someone struggling with depression. When someone is depressed, they usually have a hard time finding the motivation to get things done. Similarly, when people feel as if they can’t complete responsibilities that can add to their depression making it even harder to cope. When a schedule is implemented, it can be easier to manage your responsibilities in a timely manner. Another use for creating a schedule could be to target what is causing you to feel depressed and what times of the day your depression affects you the most. When you begin to see trends, you can start to compensate for the side effects of your depression.
When creating a daily schedule, make sure to keep it simple and set attainable goals. If you create a schedule that contains daunting tasks, it may cause feelings of defeat rather than helpfulness. Also, make sure to schedule a time for self-care for each day. Whether it be as simple as watching your favorite show, or an elaborate trip to the spa, taking time out for yourself is important while dealing with depression.
2. Make a “Self-care Kit”
Self-care kits are a must-have if you struggle with depression. A self-care kit is a box or container filled with items that make you feel comfortable, safe or put you in a more positive mood. Most people prefer to create their own personalized self-care kits when they are utilizing them for depression or other mental health issues. When you begin to make one, you should keep all of your senses in mind; taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing.
Examples of what to include:
- Essential oils that soothe you
- Calming teas
- Chocolate or other non-perishable comfort foods
- Face masks
- Fidget spinners
- Stuffed animals
- A list of songs that comfort you
- Positive affirmations
3. Reach out to your Sober Support
When you’re in recovery from alcoholism or addiction, you create bonds with fellow sober friends who will support you when you’re in need. If you are feeling depressed, now is the time to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Most recovering alcoholics have dealt with the grieving process that occurs during early-sobriety and causes us to feel depressed.
Also, a good percentage of recovering alcoholics are dual-diagnosis and cope with mental illness on a daily basis. That being said, you can find vital advice from your sober supports when you’re going through a hard time. When you aren’t looking for advice and just need a shoulder to cry on or a distraction, your sober support can be there for you in that capacity as well. Going out for dinner or a movie with your friends in recovery can be a great way to get yourself out of the rut that depression has you in!
4. Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
When you are depressed, sometimes the causes can be as simple as an unhealthy diet, unhealthy sleeping patterns, or a lack of exercise. It is proven that leading an all-around healthy life can alleviate symptoms of depression drastically. Making sure to get sunlight, have social connections, sleeping the right amount of time for your age, and eating healthy are all-natural and effective ways to combat depression.
When you eat healthily and exercise, you start to feel good about yourself. One of the main issues that people with depression suffer from is self-hatred or self-loathing. You can fight that by giving yourself reasons to congratulate yourself after a workout or after eating a healthy meal.
5. Go to Therapy Regularly
Your therapy shouldn’t stop abruptly when you leave treatment. Therapy is meant to be utilized on a regular basis, especially as a recovering alcoholic. Depression should always be treated by a professional and licensed therapist who can properly help you to recover. If you already have a therapist who knows your story and understands how your mind works, meet with them to talk about your depression.
Therapists can provide insight in order to understand what is causing your depression, what steps you need to take in order to recover and decide whether or not you should be on medication. There is a stigma surrounding taking medication for mental health issues, but you should never let that affect your personal health. Taking depression medication is beneficial when it is needed, does not mean that you are crazy, and is very common in our society.