Depression, Compulsions, & Addictions, Oh My..
Something we specialize in here at Cornerstone Counseling is helping people overcome their compulsive behaviors. Recently, I had the privilege of giving a talk on how to overcome sex and porn addiction, which we also blogged about not too long ago. After giving that talk, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague about people’s struggles with addictions and compulsions. We ended up having a long conversation about the relationship between the two and depression, and that’s what inspired this blog.
How are addictions and compulsive behaviors linked?
There is a common misconception about addictive behaviors. Because we associate addiction and chemical reactions in the brain, we sometimes can think that there is no connection to compulsions. But compulsive behaviors are linked to addiction because we feel the need to repeat behavior in order to experience the release of serotonin. This also relates to depression, as when we feel depressed, a common approach is to avoid the problem, often by repeating behaviors that provide an instant gratification, but can later lead to guilt or shame.
What types of behaviors are symptoms of addiction?
One of our specialties here at Cornerstone is helping people deal with sex and porn addiction. We discussed this in a recent blog, but some behaviors are very similar to alcohol or drugs. Hiding pornographic materials, seeking out opportunities to use it, and even feeling lustful and objectifying your partner can be key indicators of sex addiction.
For those who struggle with alcoholism, it may be easier to recognize: hiding liquor in the house, sneaking drinks into coffee, heading to the bar after work every day, etc. The list goes on.
Often, when celebrating sporting events such as the Super Bowl or March Madness, it might be easy to think you’re simply engaging in social drinking with friends, but sometimes, that can mask deeper underlying issues.
Next time you’re out celebrating, whether it be St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, or simply someone’s retirement party or birthday, take time to take stock and ask yourself if you look for excuses to drink to excess.
You might also do the same when it comes to sex and porn addiction. Take the time to do an evaluation of your habits and desires. If you find yourself looking at porn or sexually fantasizing at times when you’re alone, these can be indicators of sexual addiction and compulsive behavior. Take stock and ask yourself if you seek out situations where you can view pornography or seek casual sex in excess.
These behaviors are often a sign of deeper issues, such as depression. It is easy to fill your schedule with fun events to avoid being lonely. Going out to a bar to watch March Madness or celebrating St Patrick’s day are easy excuses to stay busy enough that you don’t have to focus or deal with your loneliness or depression. Likewise, when you’re out at bars, it’s easy to find quick easy hookups that are geared towards instant gratification. You may be avoiding dealing with deeper issues by escaping into a world of casual sex with little to no attachments. These behaviors are often indicators of sex addiction, which contrary to what many believe, is gender-blind.
How can we overcome addictions and compulsive behaviors?
You might be wondering just how one can go about overcoming addiction. Recognizing compulsive behaviors is an important aspect. Another is sharing with a confidant and having them help with accountability.
Another way you can seek to overcome compulsive behaviors, or when dealing with feelings of depression and loneliness, is with therapy. In severe cases, you may seek psychiatric help to maintain sobriety or pull yourself out of a severe depression.
We at Cornerstone are here to help no matter what you’re experiencing. We have trained therapists who are ready to assist you and work with you through your needs. We also partner with Dr. Marc Ettisohn with Cornerstone Psychiatric Care, in order to provide complete mental wellness, and help you deal with severe cases of depression.