How Will Abusing Sedatives Affect My Depression?

How Will Abusing Sedatives Affect My Depression?

Sedatives slow normal brain function to reduce anxiety, but using them for a prolonged period of time can worsen depression and lead to addiction

The Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can be divided into the following two categories:

  • Major depression is marked by severe symptoms that interfere with someone’s ability to function normally, which includes the ability to sleep, work, study, eat and enjoy life at any level
  • Persistent depressive disorder—To be diagnosed with this issue, someone must have symptoms for at least two years. During this time, she may suffer from periods of major depression as well as times with weaker symptoms.

Along with the two main categories of depression, other forms of the illness have unique symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these additional forms of depression include the following list:

  • Psychotic depression occurs when someone has severe depression plus psychosis. Psychotic symptoms can include delusions (breaks with reality) or hallucination (hearing voices and/or seeing things that others cannot see).
  • Postpartum depression is a serious version of the “baby blues,” a problem that women often experience after giving birth. Hormonal and physical changes and the stress of caring for a newborn can result in this type of depression, and it requires immediate treatment for women to safeguard their health.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by depressive symptoms that begin during months when there is less natural sunlight, such as the winter. Ergo, depression associated with SAD usually lifts during the spring and summer months, and some cases can be treated with light therapy. However, other cases require a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy for patients to recover.
  • Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is less common than major depression and is characterized by cycling between mood changes of extreme highs and lows. This issue often goes undetected, because, while in manic phases, people often believe they are cured of depression, but they only struggle even worse once their sadness returns.

If you or a loved one struggles with any of these problems, then seek professional help as soon as possible.

Treatment for Depression

Depression can be a life-changing illness for both the person suffering and also his family. However, when depression is properly treated, patients can lead normal lives. To that end, the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends a combination of medications and psychotherapy to offer a balanced approach to the treatment of the illness. The most popular medications worldwide for depression are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These drugs increase the amount of serotonin in the brain to reduce depressive symptoms and to increase overall feelings of wellness. When people use these substances in combination with individual, group and family therapy, they can find long-term healing from depression.

Depression and Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, and they are some of the most popular sedatives available. The drugs are also used to treat muscle spasms, acute seizures and the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal. Furthermore, because major depression is often accompanied by anxiety and other physical symptoms, they are often prescribed before a proper diagnosis of depression is made. In fact, the Psychiatric Times notes that, at one time, benzodiazepines were some of the most frequently prescribed medications in the US; however, in 1989, the medical community became concerned about the drugs’ risks of dependence and their potential for abuse, so they were then classified as controlled substances.

Benzodiazepines enhance the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter GABA, the main inhibitory chemical in the brain. This act negatively charges neurons, which makes them resistant to excitability, which sedates the central nervous system and produces a calm effect. The sedation also eases muscle tension and produces an overall feeling of relaxation. However, because the central nervous system is already slowed when someone has depression, benzodiazepines can intensify the feelings of fatigue that are associated with the illness. Ergo, abusing these drugs while you also struggle with depression can quickly lead to addiction and even an accidental overdose.

If you struggle with depression and also have symptoms of anxiety, insomnia or muscle pain, then check with your doctor about what sleep aids or sedatives may be safe for occasional use. This checkup is especially important if you are currently taking an antidepressant or are being treated for high blood pressure. In fact, people with depression should avoid all medications until they consult their healthcare providers.

Find Help for Sedative Abuse and Depression

Depression in all its forms is a serious illness that requires professional treatment. Most people who suffer from a depressive disorder can find healing through a combination of medication and psychotherapy, but sedatives, especially benzodiazepines, are dangerous for people who struggle with this mental health issue. Increased symptoms, thoughts of suicide, addiction and accidental overdose are all possible when depressed people abuse sedatives, so, if you or a loved one struggles with depression or addiction, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You can get and stay healthy with the right help.