Co-occurring disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, occur when a person is struggling with two or more disorders simultaneously, such as depression and alcoholism. People with co-occurring disorders can have multiple mental illnesses, multiple substance addictions or both mental illness and substance addiction.
Clinicians often find it more difficult than usual to treat individuals with co-occurring conditions for multiple reasons.
First, co-occurring disorders often work additively. In other words, one disorder may make the other disorder(s) worse and vice versa. If clinicians simply treat one disorder while ignoring the other(s), the treatment is more likely to fail. As an example, a teenage boy with both alcoholism and depression who receives only treatment for his alcoholism may find himself relapsing whenever his depressive symptoms worsen.
Second, many people don’t recognize that they have co-occurring disorders. This is because the symptoms of one disorder may mask another. For example, an adolescent girl may attribute her racing thoughts to her anxiety, when in reality she has undiagnosed bipolar disorder in addition to anxiety.
For these reasons, patients who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues should receive a thorough physical and mental examination prior to receiving treatment.
Sovereign clinicians understand the importance of diagnosing and treating co-occurring conditions. Our patients receive world-class treatment in our dual diagnosis program, increasing the likelihood of a full recovery.