By Guest Blogger: Jennifer McGregor
She co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org to help spread reputable health information
The link between mental illness and addiction has been studied extensively through the years. While no two people react the same way to a disorder or addiction or a substance, it’s widely believed that drugs and alcohol play a bigger role in attempted coping mechanisms than previously thought. Many people living with mental health disorders find that cigarettes, alcohol, and certain drugs “help” them deal with daily life with the disorder, particularly those who have not been formally diagnosed. Yet, these things actually only serve to make things worse. Drugs and alcohol can have an effect on appetite, sleeping habits, mood, and behavior, just to name a few.
Fortunately, there are healthy ways to cope with mental illness, and there is help out there for those battling an addiction. The road to recovery is never an easy one, but for many people, finding a better way to handle anxiety, emotions, and mood swings is life-changing.
Here are a few ways to cope with mental illness and addiction.
The first thing to do is find treatment that will focus on both your mental health and substance abuse. Dual treatment is necessary in order to sort out the symptoms of a mental health disorder from those associated with drug or alcohol abuse, as they often mask each other. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and be honest about your behavior and activities.
It’s nearly impossible to go through this alone. You may feel isolated from friends and family at times due to the symptoms of your disorder or addiction, but it’s imperative that you have a strong support system to fall back on when things get tough. You might consider joining a support group–either one you can physically attend or one you can participate in online–in order to have someone to talk to who knows what you’re going through.
Take care of yourself
Taking care of your mind, body, and spirit is absolutely necessary as you go through treatment. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting at least eight hours of sleep, and engaging in daily exercise will help you feel better and give you a goal to work towards. It might be helpful to consider acquiring a service animal as well. These furry friends–usually dogs or cats–can help with anxiety and mood disorders as well as a variety of mental health issues.
Some people insist they aren’t creative, but it’s often simply because they’ve never tried to be. Do some research online and pick one or two things you’d like to try–painting, singing, acting, dancing, sculpting, cooking, and writing are great options–and look for a local class or try it yourself in your own home. Art therapy is a great way to cope with mental health issues and can help you get in touch with sides of yourself you never even knew existed.