What is depression?

Depression is one of those words that is widely used in a rehab/treatment center and in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships.

In many ways the word depression can mean anything that anyone want to mean, although it doesn’t have a very clear clinical and medical meaning.

A rehab may have, in fact should have qualified medical personnel who would build to diagnose clinical depression, but that is not normally a part of the treatment process that can be fully relied upon in a rehab or anywhere else.

The significance of the word depression, and its meanings, can be looked at in a number of different ways in order to help alleviate whatever the underlying condition.

It is a given, but anyone who feels the need should seek medical attention or diagnosis of a condition, any conditions, and depression is certainly a condition that can be diagnosed and treated if appropriate.

In many ways it is more important in a 12 step fellowship sense to talk about some of the underlying emotional drives that can make a person feel depressed.

Given that there can be differences of view about what the word depression means, it is important that when a person enters a rehab goes to an AA meeting, they have the freedom to acknowledge who they are and how they are feeling.

A rehab will from day one, hopefully, encourage an alcoholic to own whatever feelings are going on as being valid in their own right and looked at.

The need to look at feelings and see what is giving rise to them is hugely important in a recovery context.

Recovery from alcoholism whether it begins in a rehab or an AA meeting, is about learning to live with oneself sober.

This means that acknowledging one’s feelings and understanding where they come from in terms of emotional drives is a key part of sobriety.

Many people begin the journey of recovery in a rehab, and the time spent there will be fairly minimal in comparison to the time needed to really deal with these underlying emotional drives.

It is important that a rehab does not dismiss feelings of depression or low energy levels are simply being that of self-pity or some other oversimplification.

There is a tendency in AA meetings to do this sometimes, and it is important that the rehab does not encourage this.

A rehab will often have a programme of recovery that is modelled on the first five steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Whilst the therapeutic work itself will be different, it will open the alcoholic up to an awareness of some of the feelings that are going on inside them, and if the therapists who are working at a rehab know what they are doing, the alcoholic will be guided gently bringing these feelings and encouraged to seek out ways of processing them.

A rehab all quite often have a number of physical therapies available to help the alcoholic whilst in treatment.

These may be fairly normal activities such as a gym, yoga classes, chi kung, breath work and other types of activity that can promote physical health and well-being.

Resident in a rehab will be encouraged to try out these different activities, and certainly an improvement in physical health is welcome.

It is important to recognise however that recovery in a rehab for an AA meeting begins first and foremost with someone’s spiritual development not their physical improvement or physique.

Working on someone’s inner world is an important process, and if done appropriately in a rehab will help the person heal a number of the hurts and emotional drives that have fuelled their drinking and their alcoholism.

Some rehabs will have a detox as part of their treatment center facilities. Other rehabs will have arrangements with local hospitals where detox can take place if necessary.

It is important to note, and a rehab should certainly be aware of this, that anyone who has very recently come off a period of sustained drinking needs a reasonable amount of time for their body to begin to regulate itself properly.

This applies to their mental health as well as their physical health, and should be taken into account by a rehab when dealing with any issues of depression, clinical or otherwise.