James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Mood disorders represent people experiencing mild to severe depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, panic, anxiety disorders, phobias, personality disorders and other disorders including alcohol or drug dependence.
Major research over the years has not completely explained one singular definitive cause of mood disorders. Generally, most consider a combination of bio-psycho-social factors including: family genetics, personality traits and stressful life events such as marital stress, financial issues, severe injury, chronic health issues or death of a relative or friend.
Strained relationships double the risk of triggering a mood disorder.
In the treatment of mood disorders, family conflict is present often enough that it be given symptom status.
It is estimated that up to 70% of the people who are currently diagnosed with a mood disorder also have alcohol and/or substance abuse issues.
Casual use of alcohol or substances complicates treatment of depression/mood disorders and will likely result in a relapse to symptoms, alcohol and substance abuse and possibly hospitalization or suicide.
People with mood disorders who are long term casual alcohol users are very likely to develop alcohol dependence or addiction over the course of their lifetime.
These two separate and distinct mood disorders (depression and addiction) complicate and exacerbate each other. For example, depressive symptoms can be a trigger for alcohol cravings.
Most patients benefit from combined psychotherapy, medication and an array of support services when dual diagnosis is present. Patients with chronic psychiatric illness are at risk for substance abuse and dependence. Plans for comprehensive treatment of mental illness must include measures to prevent, detect, and treat substance abuse. Poor medication compliance and poor response to traditional substance abuse treatment have been associated with dual diagnosis. Substance abuse decreases compliance with treatment, compromises the efficacy of medication and thereby increases the risk of symptom exacerbation and relapse.
The National Center for Health Statistics (2006) show about half of marriages will result in divorce. These statistics also show that stress and arguments over money are major contributors.
Social disability is a primary source of stress; it prevents patient’s developing the supportive relationships that could provide a buffering effect; thus, it is a potent predictor of symptom exacerbation.
Social support plays a critical role and is a necessary component if treatments are to improve the patient’s overall level of functioning, quality of life and compliance with treatment.
Mood disorders rank among the top 10 causes of worldwide disabilities. About 1 in 7 people in the USA have a mental disorder. Depression affects nearly seven percent of the population of American adults. Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Women are 50% more likely as men to experience depression over their lifetime. Major depressive disorders account for about 20 to 35% of all death by suicide. A major risk factor for suicide is a combination of depression and alcohol or substance abuse. Clients with a mood disorder and/or dual diagnosis (mood disorder and alcohol dependence) can be taught to manage their disorders, much as people learn to manage other physical handicaps such as diabetes or epilepsy.
As one can easily see from the above literature, mood disorders including alcoholism and addiction can have a tremendous impact on our life and relationships. Given the research it is quite possible and even likely that either you or your spouse will experience a mood disorder at some time in your life time. Even without these disorders, sometimes life just gets in the way of our relationships. We can easily lose our connection to our spouse due to stressors such as finances, job stress, children’s activities, parenting issues, in-laws, health issues, and death of a relative or friend. These issues, in turn, can lead to poor communication, conflict, loss of civility and respect, apathy and infidelity which creates resentment and a feeling of distance from our spouse. Now add the complications of alcohol abuse and addiction and we are guaranteed that issues will negatively impact our relationships, creating conflict and increase the possibility of divorce.
The goal here is to give people the knowledge and skills to overcome these issues when they occur. Chances are they will occur at some point in our relationship. There is no Cinderella story; no happily ever after. If we are going to have a healthy, happy relationship for life then we need to recognize that relationships take work and attention. We can’t allow life to get in the way. My goal is to make couples more aware and hopefully prevent conflict and divorce. I want to give people the tools to deal with life stressors, mood disorders, addiction and the ability to withstand whatever life hands you.
Therefore, in upcoming Blogs I will address coping with mood and relationship disorders, alcohol/drug dependence and the other common issues that tend to get in the way of our relationships and marriage.
As a therapist, I also recognize that in some relationships, couples are past the point of working on their issues themselves without a skilled therapist to intervene. I recommend a Cognitive Behavioral Approach to treatment regardless of who the therapist is.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 847-733-4300 Ext 638. I can address your relationship, mental health issues and provide support for your alcohol and substance abuse issues, if any.
Not in the Chicago Area! Now I can work via face time with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.
For those in the metropolitan Chicago area, I have offices in Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue, and near 22nd St and Wolf Road in Westchester. Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.
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Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.