How Will Abusing Sedatives Affect My Depression?

How Will Abusing Sedatives Affect My Depression?

Depression is a very serious psychological, and potentially physiological, disorder. Clinical depression involves damage to the way the brain processes and experiences emotion. This is not simply a matter of feeling sad. A depressed person, in fact, is often unable to feel anything at all. It is tragically common for depressed people to use drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate their disorder. In time, of course, this type of substance abuse makes their condition even worse.

What is Depression?

The brain manages a wide range of critical functions through an elaborate and intricate system of neurochemical signals and responses in its prefrontal cortex region. The following are controlled by this system:

  • Appetite, eating and satiation
  • Sexual attraction, response and bonding
  • Sleeping and waking up
  • Enduring physical or mental distress for a future reward
  • Motivation to exercise
  • Self-esteem
  • The forming and recollection of memories
  • Impulse control
  • Learning
  • Managing feelings (emotions)

This same system is also responsible for turning repeated behaviors into habits. By moving repetitive behaviors from the cognitive part of the brain into the subconscious area, critical decision-making and awareness resources are made available. This process will reinforce any behavior that creates pleasure, or provides relief from emotional or physical pain. In a healthy person this system promotes personal motivation, self-control, hard work, healthy eating and sleeping, and an overall feeling of wellness. Individuals experiencing relief from emotional or physical pain, however, will find themselves subconsciously compelled to repeat the behavior that provided that relief; even if that behavior is dangerous, humiliating, unhealthy or illegal.

Individuals may experience low levels of these “feel good” chemicals, or may suffer from a physiological brain defect that prevents this system from functioning properly. The human emotional system can be significantly slowed, or depressed, by any of the following:

  • Hereditary factors
  • Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Long-term exposure to stress or anxiety
  • Chemical imbalances due to drug or alcohol abuse
  • Distressing compulsive behaviors (eating, sexual, etc.)
  • The sudden loss of a loved one, a job or a relationship

While persistent sadness or melancholy can certainly be one symptom of depression, many people do not experience those things. Most clinically depressed people describe themselves as being emotionally numb or absent. They crave any emotion; even a negative one.

How Sedatives Affect Depression

It may seem odd that sedatives would relieve the symptoms of depression, but when first used that is exactly what happens. Chemical sedatives induce a relaxed, pleasurable, emotional state. Most sedatives give users a mildly euphoric high when first abused. The following sedatives are commonly abused by depressed people seeking relief:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Narcotics
  • Gasses and other inhalants

The brain develops a tolerance for these substances very quickly. This means that larger and more frequent doses will be required for relief to be realized. Eventually users find that they require a constant supply of these chemicals in order to function at all. They no longer experience the associated euphoria. This dependence exacerbates the addict’s already established depression by adding additional consequences and distress.

Consequences of Depressive Sedative Abuse

While the short-term use of certain sedatives may be an effective treatment for acute emotional distress, long-term abuse presents many consequences. These substances are all highly addictive and extremely dangerous. The following are potential consequences of depressive sedative abuse:

  • Physical addiction to the sedative
  • Psychological or emotional dependence
  • Dangerously high tolerance leading to overdose
  • Rebound anxiety or distress effect
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Many sedative addicts experience intense anxiety or panic attacks if and when they stop using their drug.

24-Hour Depression and Substance Abuse Helpline

If you would like more information about how sedative abuse impacts depression please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our staff members are available any time of day or night to answer your questions and to connect you with the best possible treatment program for your specific needs. Specialized treatment programs provide healing through uniquely arranged therapeutic packages based around the following essential elements:

  • Individual counseling (various types and techniques depending on your needs)
  • Support group gatherings
  • Healthy physical activities
  • Medically supervised detox
  • Education
  • Family counseling when appropriate
  • Preparation for life after rehab

One of the sad ironies of depression is that one of its effects is decreased motivation and hopelessness. A depressed person often doesn’t even care about getting well. Thus motivating her to seek help and to submit to the treatment process can be difficult. If you are showing symptoms of depression (apathy, numbness, eating or sleeping too much or too little, frequent crying, mood swings), please call our helpline right now. Even if you don’t think treatment will work, or feel that you don’t deserve to be well, we can help.  Living with depression is miserable. Untreated depression can be life threatening. Continuing to abuse sedatives as a means of self-medication is only going to make your situation worse. Break out of the fog of depression and substance abuse. Call right now.