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Do I Have Co-Occurring Disorders?

patient getting answer to question do I have co-occurring disorders

If you drink wine every evening to combat the depression you feel throughout the day, you may wonder, “Do I have co-occurring disorders?” And it’s possible you do. About 45% of Americans have a dual diagnosis, which is when a person has more than one mental health disorder. When disorders co-occur, the best way to overcome both effectively is with integrated treatment. 

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder? 

A co-occurring disorder is when you have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. One disorder may have triggered the other. Or they may develop independently but are now worsening each other’s symptoms. Co-occurring disorders are also known as comorbidity, dual disorders, or dual diagnosis. 

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Certain mental health disorders are more likely to occur together than others. Often, a mental health disorder occurs, then the person tries to use a substance to cope with the symptoms. Instead, they develop an addiction.

Common mental health disorders that occur alongside substance use disorders include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders

These mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand with alcohol or drug use. Signs of substance use disorders include the inability to stop taking the substance despite the negative impact on your physical or mental health, increased tolerance, and cravings and withdrawals when substance use stops.

What Causes Co-Occurring Disorders?

Almost half of the people with a severe mental illness also live with addiction or substance use issues. That’s no coincidence. There’s a strong relationship between the two. 

Mental health and substance use disorders result from various factors, many of which overlap. Some people have a higher genetic risk for such disorders, while environment and past trauma can play a big part. Certain disorders also can trigger each other and worsen each other’s severity. 

Reasons co-occurring disorders are so prominent include:

  • High Genetic Risk Factors. Certain people have a greater genetic predisposition to substance use and mental health disorders.
  • Environmental Factors. Home environment, abusive relationships, and exposure to trauma, particularly at a young age, can increase the risk of mental health disorders and substance use.
  • Impact of Mental Illness. Living with a mental health disorder can put you at a higher risk of substance use disorders. Especially when left untreated. You may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to suppress negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Impact of Substance Use. Excessive drug and alcohol use can cause changes in your brain, leading to mental health issues. Substance use can also significantly worsen the symptoms of pre-existing mental health disorders.

A depressed female client sitting on a couch holding her head next to a doctor doing diagnostic examination

Do I Have Co-Occurring Disorders?

Signs and symptoms of a co-occurring disorder can differ depending on your mental health and substance use disorders. But co-occurring disorders can also result in compound problems arising from one or both disorders.

Warning signs of co-occurring disorders may include:

  • Difficulty maintaining friendships and relationships
  • Low performance at work and difficulty keeping jobs
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Emotional instability and extreme mood swings
  • Using substances to numb thoughts or emotions
  • High-risk behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts

The signs and symptoms of co-occurring disorders can be easier to spot in others than they are in yourself. If you find yourself wondering, “Do I have co-occurring disorders?” it’s probably a good idea to seek a professional’s advice.

Understanding Integrated Treatment 

Co-occurring disorders require integrated treatment, often referred to as dual diagnosis treatment.

Integrated treatment involves coordinating the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders rather than treating them separately without consideration for the other. 

Without integrated treatments, untreated addictions may derail or delay progress in treating a mental health issue. Or vice versa.

Benefits of Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Treating disorders simultaneously in one integrated treatment plan can significantly increase effectiveness.

Integrated treatment works because:

  • You get access to specialists in mental health treatment and addiction recovery
  • Therapists communicate with each other to coordinate your treatments
  • A comprehensive treatment plan is tailored toward your unique, individual needs
  • You’ll become more aware of the relationship between your mental health disorder and substance use disorder
  • You work to identify and treat the underlying causes of both disorders

Types of Integrated Treatment

All co-occurring disorders are unique, and your treatment journey will look different from others. At Integrative Life Center, we create a tailored program of integrated treatments to help you overcome your disorders and fulfill your goals.

Common integrated treatments include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You work with your therapist to identify any harmful thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Then you learn how to redirect them and respond more healthily.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Using mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance techniques, DBT teaches you to recognize and control your emotions rather than react to them. This type of therapy helps you identify triggers and avoid undesirable actions.
  • Experiential Therapy. Promotes movement, actions, and activities to establish a mind-body connection and prompt you to recognize and address suppressed issues. 
  • Holistic Treatment Programs. Treatments like yoga, breathwork, psychodrama, and eye movement desensitization can improve well-being, refresh confidence, and help you control emotions.
  • Relapse Prevention Therapy. Equips you to anticipate and overcome the possibility of relapse once you leave ILC by providing you with the tools to identify and cope with environmental, social, and emotional triggers.
  • 12-Step. A group-based program that allows you to help others achieve and maintain abstinence from substance use. During meetings, you share your experiences and find support from others. The 12-step method focuses on forming new patterns and learning new coping mechanisms.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment. Using medication to reduce symptoms of disorders and assist the effectiveness of other types of integrated treatment.

Let Integrative Life Center Help You Overcome Co-Occurring Disorders

At Integrative Life Center, we use the transformative approach to treatment, which means we focus on restoring your physical and emotional self. We help you identify and address the root cause of your disorders, not just the symptoms. Then we help you treat the causes and control the resulting negative behaviors.

Dual diagnosis treatment at Integrative Life Center takes place on our spacious campus in Tennessee, amidst acres of grassy woodlands. Our upscale facility and luxurious accommodations lend a resort-level of care to your treatment. Contact us today to start your healing journey.

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