Depression and excessive alcohol drinking can each be debilitating issues. When someone struggles with both — which is common, each leading to the other — treatment is critical.

A new study shows depression and harmful drinking can be successfully treated with counseling, and the results are lasting.

Because not everyone has easy access to mental health care from trained specialists, this study utilized counseling programs that can be given by non-specialists.

One was called the Healthy Activity Program, which takes 6-8 sessions. HAP focuses on getting a severely depressed subject to engage in activity –such as writing assignments, activity scheduling, and physical exercise — that can change problem behavior. It brings in the individual’s family and social support network and teaches strategies for dealing with triggers.

Sixty-three percent of people who participated in this counseling program were able to reduce depression symptoms, compared to 48 percent of people who received more typical medical care.

Another program, called Counseling for Alcohol Problems, can also be delivered by care providers who don’t specialize in mental health — the same providers treating depression symptoms. It seeks to change thinking and behavior related to alcohol and involves practicing these changes in session and out.

Those who participated in CAP were more likely to stop drinking — 54 percent compared to the 32 percent of people who didn’t receive the counseling.

With lives all over the world being darkened by depression and excessive alcohol use, it’s heartening to see researchers developing ways to reach these individuals. If you’re struggling with depression or alcohol use, counseling helps! Give it a try!

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