Treatment for Depression and Alcoholism in Los Angeles

It’s not uncommon to experience depression and alcoholism at the same time. These are complex issues, and they require a comprehensive treatment approach. Whether you’re seeking help for yourself or someone you love, below are more details about treatment for depression and alcoholism in Los Angeles and what to expect. You will learn:

  • What depression is
  • How depression and alcohol abuse are related
  • Signs of alcoholism
  • What to expect when seeking treatment for depression and alcohol abuse

What is Depression?

Depression is also called major depressive disorder.[1] This mood disorder, while common, is also serious, and it affects how you think, feel and handle daily activities. Depression is more than simply feeling sad or having a rough patch. It’s a persistent condition that can seriously affect your ability to function normally.

The symptoms of depression can vary in their duration and intensity and can include:[1,2]

  • Persistent low mood or sadness. You might feel hopeless or empty most of the day, almost every day.
  • You could have a marked decrease in pleasure or interest in most or all activities, including things you enjoyed at one point.
  • Significant changes in weight or appetite can be indicators of depression.
  • Depression can lead to insomnia or excessive sleeping.
  • Feeling tired and low energy nearly every day are common symptoms.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness can occur.
  • Problems concentrating or making decisions.
  • Physical symptoms of depression can include unexplained pain, digestive issues and headaches.
  • Some people with depression will experience recurrent thoughts of death, suicide ideation or suicide attempts.

The symptoms have to be present most of the day almost every day for at least two weeks for a provider to make a diagnosis of depression.

Depression can look different in everyone. Not all people with the mood disorder are going to experience all of the symptoms.

Alcoholism and Its Symptoms

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is a chronic condition that makes you unable to control drinking. Even though you’re experiencing negative effects because of drinking, you continue. Alcoholism can be mild to severe and affects health mentally and physically. You are likely to face significant impairments in your daily functioning with alcoholism and varying health complications.

Some of the symptoms of alcoholism can include:[3]

  • Strong urges to drink.
  • Inability to limit consumption.
  • Physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you’re not drinking.
  • Needing to drink more to get the same feeling you once did.
  • Neglecting responsibilities because of drinking.
  • Continued alcohol use despite problems, physically or socially.
  • Drinking in dangerous situations.
  • Giving up activities because of alcohol use.
  • An inability to quit drinking even when trying.
  • Increased focus on drinking and time spent on it.
  • Experiencing gaps in memory is known as blacking out after drinking heavily.

Alcoholism is progressive as a disease, often worsening over time without treatment.

Alcoholism and Depression as Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and alcoholism often occur together, which is a condition called dual diagnosis. About 20% of people with depression also have an alcohol use disorder.[4]

There are many reasons people with alcoholism are more likely to have depression and vice versa, including:[4,5]

  • Self-medication: Many people with depression will self-medicate with alcohol to try and temporarily relieve symptoms. Alcohol can initially numb emotional pain or create a positive mood, but it’s temporary and can lead to alcohol dependency.
  • Brain chemistry: Alcohol affects serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are a big part of regulating mood. Chronic use of alcohol can change brain chemicals and potentially trigger depression or make symptoms more severe. Over time, the brain’s ability to regulate mood naturally gets impaired, worsening depression.
  • Biological factors: There’s evidence showing depression and alcohol share common risk factors genetically and biologically.
  • Psychological risk factors: People with depression may have low self-esteem, chronic stress and feelings of worthlessness, contributing to vulnerability to a substance abuse problem like alcoholism.
  • Environmental factors: Stressful environments or trauma can contribute to the development of alcoholism and depression.
  • Behavioral and lifestyle factors: Depression can lead to isolation, a lack of self-care and inactivity, and that can then be conducive to substance abuse. Alcohol can be a way to fill the void left by not engaging in social activities, leading to a cycle of both drinking and symptoms of depression.

Treatment for Depression and Alcoholism in Los Angeles

If you’re seeking treatment for depression and alcoholism in Los Angeles or elsewhere, it requires a comprehensive and integrated approach. Both disorders need to be simultaneously addressed for optimal recovery outcomes.

Treatment can include:[1,2,6]

  • Medical detoxification to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
  • Therapy and counseling address underlying issues and help you develop better coping strategies that are healthy and effective. Therapies can help with identifying and changing negative behaviors and thought patterns associated with both alcoholism and depression. Individual therapy and group therapy may be part of treatment.
  • Medication can include options to reduce alcohol cravings as well as antidepressants.
  • Participation in support groups.
  • Lifestyle changes including focusing on diet and exercise and developing new interests and hobbies.

An integrated program with treatment for depression and alcoholism in Los Angeles will include medical, psychological and holistic therapies to meet the specific needs of the individual.

A multidisciplinary team of providers usually works together to create a cohesive treatment plan.

Relapse prevention is often part of a dual diagnosis treatment program. A relapse prevention plan is created to identify triggers, develop coping strategies and establish a support network that will help maintain long-term recovery.

Once someone completes an intensive treatment program, they need ongoing aftercare, which might include support group participation, regular therapy and continued medication management.

Find Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Depression in Los Angeles Today

Treating co-occurring depression and alcoholism requires a multifaceted approach to address the unique challenges both disorders pose. By combining medical care, therapy, holistic treatment and ongoing support, you can experience a more stable and lasting recovery and improve your quality of life. To learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment program in Los Angeles or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please contact us today.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA): What Is Depression?
  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Depression
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
  4. National Institute of Health (NIH): The Association between Alcohol Dependence and Depression before and after Treatment for Alcohol Dependence
  5. BMC Public Health: Factors associated with alcohol use disorder: the role of depression, anxiety, stress, alexithymia and work fatigue
  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Major Depression

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