Counseling Therapy For Addiction’s Underlying Problem: Depression

One reason attributed to addiction problems is depression. It’s more like what-comes-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg kind of problem. Nonetheless, it is imperative that treatment must start once depression has something to do with the person’s addiction behaviors.


Health statistics on depression and addiction and vice versa reveals that 20% of Americans are suffering from these conditions simultaneously. “Depression is exhausting to the person suffering from it. Just accomplishing the bare minimum can seem like too much work.” As Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC explains. If you are experiencing these symptoms in a prolonged or regular basis, then it is best to consider seeking professional help. There are numerous valid counseling techniques available and utilized to treat and overcome this mood disorder. However, there has been some debate on whether treating depression can solve addiction, or treat addiction first then depression will flow away. Again, we go back to the endless discussion of what-comes-first.

For this article, the author presents treatments of depression available today. These treatment modalities are grounded on theories that can assist in the recovery of a person with depressive states. We only forewarn that these treatments may work for some and fail in some individuals.

Depression is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Methods and techniques for the management of depression are used in conjunction with other treatment modalities. A synergistic effect of holistic control of the state has a favorable prognosis.

Counseling Techniques

Cognitive Therapy. Hannah Goodman, LMHC explains that “Cognitive behavioral therapy, often shortened to CBT, focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and changing thoughts and behaviors and feelings through concrete skills.” Cognitive treatment will aid in changing a negative thought into neutral or positive thoughts. Beliefs associated with depression are unrealistic standards and expectations for themselves or projected to the world, hopelessness, self-criticism, and pessimism. Cognitive therapy also helps in prioritizing essential issues. Cognitive therapy is often the first line short-term treatment option.


Interpersonal Therapy. The counseling method linked to interpersonal relationship especially social interaction and family dynamics. The therapy focuses on understanding people’s reactions to social situations and if the cause of depression points out to interpersonal behaviors. In interpersonal theory, it identifies four underlying issues of distress in social cases.

  • Role disputes. The discrepancy in expectation involving individual relationships can be one of the causes of depression.
  • Role transitions. It can surface during life transition and role changes especially if the person is not responding well with the change.
  • Interpersonal deficits. The Inability to maintain quality relationships and become depressed due to poor social support, poor relationships, etc.
  • Unresolved grief. Delayed or inability to grieve for the bereaved, feelings of depression will appear later.

Psychotherapy. According to Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC “Good psychotherapy is an amazing tool because a skilled therapist can help you discover and learn things that will help you lead a happier, healthier life.” It is commonly used in the treatment of mental illness, the therapist aims to reach the core reason for the depression. All the aspects of your life are disclosed and discussed with the counselor. Sharing your story will forge your trust and comfort in dealing with the therapist.


Behavioral Therapy. This technique emphasizes on altering the individual’s external behavior. “In cognitive behavioral therapy, we pay attention to how thoughts and behaviors impact emotions. This means our emotions do not just appear in response to a situation. Rather, emotions are the result of how we think and how we act.” Sarah Rumpf, MA, LPCC said. The theory focuses on the idea that a person is depressed due to his/her action. The therapist will aid the individual in making necessary changes in behavior; equipping the client ways to control and change feelings of depression. This method works for some people, but it doesn’t address the cause of depression. Examples of behavioral therapy are:

  • Role-playing to develop new skills
  • Reward system to encourage positive change in destructive or depressive behavioral patterns.
  • Develop other activities to alter current “depressive” behaviors
  • Self-monitoring

Final Words

Commitment to recovery is still the key factor to reach the recovery stage in any mental health disorders. Especially in persons with addiction, self-commitment to change and take steps to behavior modification allows a faster and more comfortable recovery. If depression is the cause of addiction, take time to examine your emotions thoroughly and consult a mental health professional to help and guide you through this ordeal.