When we look at the prevalence of depression and alcohol use disorder, they respectively affect about 21 million and 14 million people in the United States today. With how similar those numbers seem to be, there is no question that alcohol addiction and depression can be experienced together. 

Depression is 3.7 times more likely to occur in individuals who are struggling with alcohol use disorder. While it does not make the withdrawal and detoxification process any harder, it does allow for treatment centers to offer specifically crafted programs and treatment methods that take care of both disorders simultaneously.

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The Link Between Alcohol and Depression

What comes first: depression or dependence on alcohol? Think of the link between alcohol dependence and depression as a two-way street, a bidirectional relationship—sometimes feeling low can lead to drinking, and sometimes drinking (since alcohol is classed as a depressant) can lead to depression. 

The common symptoms of depression[2] are:

  • Feelings of sadness or low mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty sleeping, waking or oversleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Appetite changes
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

The risk factors involved in depression such as genetics, illness, major life stress or trauma, and low socioeconomic status are many of the reasons an individual may self-soothe with alcohol. When someone tries to alleviate their depressive symptoms through drinking, it could lead to a full-blown alcohol use disorder[3] (AUD). 

It’s important to note that when AUD occurs together with any one of the depressive disorders there is a greater severity and worse prognosis than when one disorder is experienced alone.

However, there is always hope. Once individual limits or stops drinking, depressive symptoms tend to improve significantly. Residential alcohol addiction treatment centers across the United States, like Tranquility Woods, understand that depression and alcohol dependence regularly go hand in hand and these centers tailor their treatment methods to address both. 

However, there is always hope. Once individual limits or stops drinking, depressive symptoms tend to improve significantly. Residential alcohol addiction treatment centers across the United States, like Tranquility Woods, understand that depression and alcohol dependence regularly go hand in hand and these centers tailor their treatment methods to address both. 


What to Expect When Going Through Alcohol Detoxification and Withdrawal

When an individual comes to our treatment center, our first goal is to help alleviate the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms during the initial phase of alcohol detoxification. Detoxification typically takes 5 to 10 days, but each client goes through it at their own unique pace[5].

Here is a brief timeline[6] of what to expect when experiencing alcohol detoxification:

  • 6 hours after your last drink – Minor withdrawal symptoms begin (headache, tremors, upset stomach, etc.)
  • 12-24 hours – A minor percentage of people experience hallucinations at this point, they may see or hear things. 
  • 2428 hours – Minor withdrawal symptoms continue; this is when symptoms usually peak.
  • 48-72 hours – Around this mark, some experience what is called delirium tremens (DT) which presents with very high heart rate, high body temperature, and sometimes seizures. 
  • 72 hours – This is when withdrawal symptoms can be at their worst (rapid heart rate and hallucinations).

The withdrawal process happens after a long period of drinking because the central nervous system—the brain, spinal cord, and the many nerves interconnected—needs to recalibrate itself. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system which allows an individual to feel relaxed and euphoric; it also forces the brain to send out more neurotransmitters to stimulate and excite the rest of the body. 

When drinking stops, the brain is no longer getting that hit of alcohol which leaves behind an overactive nervous system. This causes the typical withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, irritability, mood changes, nausea, increased heart rate, sweating, and tremors.

At Tranquility Woods, our clients are never alone during this process. We have doctors and therapists working with you to help ease the experience of such symptoms. Our goal is to make the detoxification process as painless as possible.


Residential Alcohol Addiction Treatment Centers Can Help

There is a multitude of treatment options out there for individuals dealing with alcohol use disorder, and a great option for some is residential alcohol addiction treatment centers. Inpatient alcohol treatment is widely viewed as the treatment method most likely to make a permanent positive impact on a client’s mental and physical health, and the type of treatment with the most success rate for individuals to maintain long-term sobriety. 

Once an individual has checked into a residential treatment center, they have access to medical professionals 24 hours a day for the duration of the program. This access to staff allows clients to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible and focus solely on their treatment. 

When a client comes in struggling with both alcohol dependence and depression, our program is specially designed to treat underlying mental health disorders. Our staff will ensure that our clients learn coping skills and, if needed, are provided with the proper medication.

Most programs have a set daily schedule, like here at our facility. Our daily schedule always includes three chef-prepared meals, morning therapy groups, individual therapy sessions, 12-step program meetings, and different daily activities. These activities vary between different instructor-led fitness classes, off-site activities (equine therapy and planned adventures), movie nights, game nights, and free time.

The length of stay varies from four weeks to a maximum of thirteen weeks. No matter what program length is chosen, clients will be surrounded by support and build skills that will help them once they return to their everyday lives. 


The Bottom Line

Depression is commonly diagnosed in individuals who are dependent on alcohol, and both disorders tend to fuel the other and create a vicious partnership. At Tranquility Woods, we understand that each situation is different. We have tailored our alcohol addiction programs to work with every individual that comes through our doors.

If you have any questions, please call our number at 410-442-6638.