Recognizing Symptoms of Depression After Treatment

Thoughtful woman sitting at the couch

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode” in 2017. That number continues to grow, and substance use disorder (SUD) is a high-risk factor for developing depression. Some of the symptoms can overlap with the side effects of medications used to treat co-occurring conditions making it more challenging to determine if changes are due to undiagnosed depression or something else. 

You may have noticed depressive symptoms during the detox and withdrawal stages of your treatment. Sometimes they go away and then come back after you return home and find yourself facing daily stressors and triggers. The clinical team at your treatment facility will let you know what side effects you can anticipate based on your medical history and mental health status. You will want to keep your doctor updated about any changes you notice. 

Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression

The faster you get treatment for mental health disorders, the less damage they are likely to do to your physical and emotional well-being. Being able to recognize some of the signs can make it possible to get help more quickly. It is important to note that not everyone who exhibits depressive symptoms meets the criteria for clinical depression, but they still affect your recovery. A few common depressive symptoms include:

  • Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sleep disturbances and lethargy
  • Muted or increased emotions
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Changes in appetite
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Difficulty finding the motivation to complete daily tasks

One of the easiest ways to recognize depression or any other mental health disorder is by keeping a mood journal that tracks your reactions and emotional state during your recovery. You may be able to see a pattern begin to emerge. 

Why Would I Feel Depressed After Treatment?

Transitioning to independent sobriety is a huge step in your recovery, but leaving behind a structured, controlled, and calm environment can be a jarring experience. Returning home means that you will face people and places that remind you of past behaviors. You may notice yourself start to grow more anxious, stressed, and moody if you do not work to process trauma or emotional distress related to the triggers you encounter after treatment. 

What Do Depressive Symptoms Feel Like?

Researchers from the NIMH article mentioned above report that “for some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities.” The actual symptoms and how they feel will vary from person to person, and they exist along a spectrum, so one person may experience extreme feelings of dread while someone else may have a mild but persistent sense of unease. Most people with depression experience unusual fatigue, loss of focus, and emotional instability. 

What Can I Do to Cope With Depressive Symptoms?

Recovery is not a straight line, and it is entirely normal to find yourself feeling out of sorts after you stop attending the mandatory daily therapy sessions offered by most rehabilitation facilities. The first few weeks and months after you return home will be challenging, and you can do several things to keep yourself feeling emotionally stable, including: 

  • Attending regular individual therapy
  • Attending support group meetings
  • Checking in regularly with your support system
  • Socializing with close friends and family
  • Practicing self-care every day
  • Taking care of your mind and body

Everyone responds to depression in different ways. You may find that distractions work best, or maybe you enjoy prioritizing goal lists to stay motivated. Depression is very draining, so you need to find ways to stay energized throughout the day. You might find the following suggestions helpful in keeping yourself distracted or reassured during a depressive episode: 

  • Playing a game
  • Baking
  • Coloring
  • Drawing
  • Journaling
  • Watching a movie

How Long Will I Feel This Way?

Clinical depression can last for months or even years depending on various factors, including genetics, medical history, and current living environment. However, you can successfully manage your symptoms by using psychotherapy, prescription medication, or a combination of the two. Although it might feel like it right now, you will not be stuck feeling this way forever. Resources exist to get you the help you need, but the only way to get proper treatment is to get diagnosed officially. If you notice yourself exhibiting signs of depression, speak with your doctor today. 

Substance abuse is a risk factor for developing mental health disorders that can lead to changes in behavior. Depression is a widespread mental health disorder that can cause short or long-term setbacks in recovery. If you find yourself identifying with any of the signs of depression, then you may benefit from therapy, peer support, or prescription medication. At White House Recovery and Detox, we treat dual diagnoses, including mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. You do not have to survive day to day with the symptoms of depression pulling you down. Instead, you can reach out for help today. You have worked too hard to let it all go to waste due to unexpected depressive symptoms. White House Recovery and Detox is here to provide the treatment services you need to find relief from the effects of depression. Contact us to find out more about what we have to offer by calling us today at (800) 510-5393.