What is a Co-occurring Disorder?
When an individual struggles with a substance use disorder and a mental health issue, he is said to have a co-occurring disorder. For example, someone may be depressed and at the same time struggle with alcohol abuse. Since alcohol is a depressant, it actually makes the symptoms of depression worse. As depression worsens, it typically leads to more alcohol abuse. The individual’s body simply does not know how to respond to the chemicals being ingested. As a result, the individual may experience extreme highs of ecstasy when intoxicated. This period is then followed by extreme lows that may include suicidal thoughts or even suicide attempts. The two issues feed off each other, making both worse.
The Challenges That Come With Co-occurring Disorders
In many cases, an individual may not even be aware that he is struggling with depression or some other type of mental health issue. He may have felt that way for an extended period of time, so he considers the symptoms to be normal. Some people may prefer to spend the majority of their time alone, but this can be dangerous because isolation and loneliness can lead to depression. We all need to engage with other people; this is one area that has a direct correlation with mental health.