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If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Depression is an often misunderstood and confusing mental and emotional health issue. It often functions as a co-occurring disorder alongside addiction, meaning that they can co-exist in us simultaneously and can present themselves in similar ways, with the same underlying causes at the root. When we don’t address our depression, we put ourselves at risk for worsening health outcomes and problematic symptoms.

Depression that goes untreated can fester and worsen, making us feel even more alone, hopeless and despondent. Our normal sadness is replaced by an unshakeable despair that we feel powerless against. We feel down on ourselves and tempted to give up. We are desperate for relief from our emotional pain and can have suicidal thoughts and ideation as a result. We can experience heightened anxiety and panic attacks, along with other mental illnesses. We can develop anxiety disorders, eating disorders, insomnia and other health issues that are related to our depression and that feed it.

When we don’t address our depression, it can totally overtake our lives. It can dominate our thinking, causing us to struggle with our memory, focus, concentration, comprehension and understanding. We can experience racing thoughts, panic and intense confusion. We can find ourselves easily stressed, overwhelmed and triggered. Our depression can wreak havoc on our entire lives, our lifestyles and daily routines, our health and well-being, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with other people. We can be more emotionally volatile, more argumentative, more reactive and more defensive. We can have increasing tension and conflict in our relationships, all resulting from the unresolved issues pertaining to our depression.

One of the most problematic elements of untreated depression is our tendency to self-medicate rather than get the help we need. We’re afraid to be honest with ourselves about our struggles with depression. We hide and deny them. We use our addictive substances and behaviors to numb our pain and try to escape it. The more we do this, the more disconnected we become from our inner selves, making it harder to find happiness, peace and fulfillment.

We often will let our depression go untreated because we’re afraid of what it will mean for us if we faced it honestly. We don’t want to admit we have a problem. We don’t want to accept the painful truths of our mental health imbalances and illnesses. It can be scary to face ourselves and what we perceive to be our weaknesses. It is a tremendous sign of courage and strength when we can get the help we need and not allow pride, fear of shame keep us from loving ourselves fully.

Learning to work with our emotions is an important part of recovery. Riverside Recovery is here to support you in your recovery journey. Call (800) 871-5440 for information on our treatment programs.