dual diagnosis treatment

How We Treat Dual Diagnosis

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to highlight the importance of recognizing and understanding mental illness. Chances are, you know someone who has been impacted by a mental health issue, whether you realize it or not. There are often stereotypes associated with a mental health diagnosis, and accurate information is key to dispelling these myths. At Recovery Without Walls, we provide comprehensive treatment for those dealing with substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illnesses: a phenomenon known as dual diagnosis.

What is Mental Health?

Everyone has mental health, but not all people have a mental illness. Mental health is simply the state of your emotional wellness. It’s subject to change based on circumstances as you go through periods of highs and lows. Your overall mental health relates to how well you are managing the good and bad in life. In contrast, mental illness is a diagnosable condition. The primary indicator of a mental health disorder is that it affects a person’s daily life.

For example, someone who is experiencing extreme lows for a long period of time may be unable to properly care for themselves. They could lack adequate hygiene, have disordered eating habits, or avoid interacting with others. These are signs there is something deeper going on. Usually, for a mental illness to be diagnosed, specific criteria must be met (impairments in functioning) over an extended period of time. If someone is exhibiting these types of symptoms, they should be examined by a mental health professional. 

What Causes Mental Illness?

When someone develops a mental health issue, there are often many contributing factors that lead to a diagnosis. These risk factors fall into three main categories: biological, environmental, and neurological.

Biological Predispositions

Some people are more susceptible to mental illness simply because of their genetics. If you have someone in your family who also has a mental health disorder, there is a greater chance you will as well. For that reason, it’s important to monitor your symptoms closely, so you can get the support you need early on.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which you grew up and currently live also greatly impacts your mental health. People who have experienced trauma, witnessed abuse, or lived in extreme conditions are likely to see the effects of this on their mental health. When faced with challenging circumstances or things outside of our control, our body and mind go into a protective state. This can result in unhealthy coping mechanisms and an imbalance in emotion regulation. 

Neurological Issues

Research has shown that there are identifiable brain markers of mental illness. Neural pathways can be damaged, resulting in an inability to effectively manage emotions. For example, depressive disorders disrupt the brain’s ability to either produce or absorb serotonin. This correlates to the consistent negative feelings experienced by those with major depressive disorder. Scientists have also worked to map brain function as it relates to mental health disorders and have found that those with mental illnesses have less brain activity in certain situations.

How Common is Mental Illness?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults experiences a mental illness at some point in their lives. One in twenty adults has a serious mental illness that causes a significant impact on their ability to function. Examples of these would be psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, and some instances of major depressive disorder. Often, a diagnosis of a mental health issue coincides with a substance use disorder. In this case, a person is said to have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. One out of every fifteen people has a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness. Recognizing the prevalence of mental health disorders helps to reduce stigma and encourage those who are struggling that they are not alone.

Why Specialized Treatment Matters

For those with a diagnosed mental illness, treatment from a trained mental health professional is necessary for recovery. When you participate in specialized treatment, your clinician will work with you to address your specific symptoms and help you develop coping skills. Individualized therapy also allows you to process some of the life experiences that may have impacted your mental health. Finding someone you trust is key to successful treatment. 

How Recovery Without Walls Treats Mental Illness

At Recovery Without Walls, we understand the complexities of each mental illness, especially as they interact with a substance use disorder. Our outpatient addiction, mental health, and chronic pain facility in Mill Valley, California provides intensive support without the need for overnight stay. We offer a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment model that ensures you have the skills to manage both addiction and mental health. 

Through psychotherapy, you can work through the emotions related to your diagnoses and life hurts. Often, we combine psychotherapy with medication management to provide you with the most comprehensive treatment. Our clinicians will closely monitor you throughout this process to ensure the medication we prescribe is helpful for your symptoms. We are there for you through every stage of the recovery process. If you’re in need of intensive addiction treatment and have a co-occurring mental illness, contact our team to learn more about our outpatient practice.