What You Should Know About Psychiatric Comorbidity
You may find it a little unsettling if your doctor or mental health provider has mentioned the term “psychiatric comorbidity” when referencing your mental health. The word “comorbid” just sounds a little off-putting.
But in reality, psychiatric comorbidity means that two or more psychiatric disorders plague your everyday life. The term most often refers to you if you simultaneously suffer from a mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) claims that 45% of people with addiction have a mental health disorder.
The terms psychiatric comorbidity, co-occurring disorders, and dual diagnosis are often used interchangeably. When diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, it’s typically called a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.
Comorbidity is highly similar because the two conditions may coincide or be in succession. Whatever terminology you decide to use, it’s crucial to get an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, if your provider doesn’t identify comorbidity, your addiction could remain in the spotlight in terms of treatment without accurately addressing your mental health disorder.
Common Mental Health Disorders That Accompany Addiction
As mentioned earlier, substance abuse and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. Some mental illnesses and disorders can often add to the development of a particular addiction. That’s precisely why it’s crucial for you not to ignore the signs of a mental health condition.
Common mental health disorders linked to addiction include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
As the most common type of anxiety disorder, GAD presents itself as being overcome with fear and worry in everyday situations. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, you are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs to help manage your symptoms. However, you may not realize that abusing these substances may end up causing you more anxiety and worsening symptoms in the long run.
If you suffer from depression, you are at a higher risk to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, the crash-and-burn effect after using makes your depression symptoms worse. The ‘hangxiety’ feeling after abusing substances can lead to a toxic self-medicating cycle.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
If you suffer from OCD, unwanted obsessions and compulsions take over your life. These obsessions come in varying forms, like obsessively washing your hands, constantly rearranging items for symmetry, hoarding, and more.
Unfortunately, if you have OCD, the chances of suffering from anxiety and depression are relatively high. In other words, they have a high level of comorbidity. And as we stated above, you are also more prone to substance abuse when depressed.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
This disorder is triggered by a terrifying event either experienced or witnessed. Flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety are common symptoms when you have PTSD. When you experience a traumatic event, your brain produces fewer endorphins. This often leads to replacing those endorphins substances that temporarily provide them.
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
If you have ADHD, you are one of the 5% of Americans that do. A common way to treat ADHD is through the use of stimulants. Unfortunately, they can be habit-forming, and you may be more inclined to abuse them.
Understanding Dual Diagnosis
Suppose you are already dealing with a mental health condition. In that case, you are twice as likely to endure some form of substance abuse. Conversely, if you have a substance abuse disorder, you are more likely to develop a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Several factors can exacerbate a dual diagnosis:
- Genetics: Your genes make up 40- 60% of your likelihood of developing substance addictions. Your genetics and family history can also make you more prone to developing a mental illness.
- Environmental Triggers: If you’ve experienced a traumatic event, it could cause you to develop an addiction or mental illness like PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Chronic stress and anxiety also may kickstart a dual diagnosis.
- Early Exposure: As an adolescent, the risk factors associated with substance abuse are higher than that of older adults. It is likely that you may develop a dual diagnosis later on in life if you experimented with drugs or alcohol at a young age.
- Brain Responses: Drug abuse can cause symptoms that mimic mental illness. If you abuse drugs, you may develop psychosis or panic that can cause you to lose touch with reality.
Self-medicating Dangers Surrounding Psychiatric Comorbidity
A dual diagnosis or psychiatric comorbidity can vary from person to person. Your symptoms could differ depending on which substance is abused or the severity of your mental health condition. Whatever level of disorder you are dealing with, self-medicating can induce addiction behaviors and make your condition worse.
Examples of self-medicating may include:
- using marijuana to mask your feelings and emotions
- drinking alcohol to numb your symptoms or so you can feel more relaxed in social situations
- abusing Benzodiazepines to control anxiety and keep panic attacks at bay
- excessive use of stimulants to increase energy and complete daily tasks
A significant danger of self-medicating is that you may lose control over how much of the substance you’re using. Over time, you develop a tolerance and require more of your preferred substance to achieve the same effects. You don’t want the vicious cycle of addiction and dependency to spiral out of control and worsen your mental health.
Finding Dual Diagnosis Treatment in San Diego
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with dual diagnosis or comorbidity, seeking treatment at a Dual Diagnosis treatment in San Diego (or wherever you’re located) is your first step is your first step. If you allow your mental health concerns to fester, it will only make matters worse. You need an integrated approach for both substance abuse and mental illness treatment.
At BOLD Health in San Diego, we offer dual-diagnosis treatment plans catered to your specific needs. Individual counseling, medication management, outpatient detox, and an intensive outpatient program (IOP) are all viable options for managing your mental health disorder and substance abuse patterns.
Our substance abuse programs include two highly-effective options.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Our San Diego IOP is one of the leading treatment programs in the area. Considered a step up from an outpatient detox, our IOP offers a more intensive form of treatment. Your customized therapy program could include individual, group, or family therapy sessions and medication management. One of our BOLD health experts will work with you to determine what treatment or treatments are right for you.
- Outpatient Detox Program
Based on an evaluation with one of our BOLD Health mental health and addiction experts, we’ll work with you to curate a plan to treat your dual diagnosis optimally.
Our outpatient detox program is effective and convenient if you require detox as part of your treatment. You’ll receive help at our center during the day and still be able to tend to your family responsibilities at night.
We’ll help you get through your detox by devising a plan based on your individual needs and situation. We consider your age, medical history, substance abuse history, metabolism, and mental and physical health. If needed, our clinicians may prescribe medication to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Get the support and dual diagnosis treatment in San Diego that you deserve. Whether through our San Diego IOP, outpatient detox program, or other treatment options. Don’t wait for conditions to worsen or self-medicate. Here at BOLD Health, you get the help you need, free from judgment. Contact one of our compassionate care coordinators today and take the first step in gaining control of your life.