Identifying Barriers to Recovery

Recovery is a difficult journey for everyone but, for some, there are obstacles that can slow or even block progress. While it is easy to say, “Make changes in your life,” some changes can be difficult to confront. Here are some examples.

Substance Abuse

Many people with depression try to self-manage their symptoms with alcohol, drugs or compulsive gambling.8,14 Most experts feel that alcohol and other drug abuse is not a sign that depressed people are trying to “medicate” themselves out of their depression but a separate illness altogether.14

  • This is a solution that will not work long-term and may lead to further complications. For tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid excessive drinking or drug use, read Leading a Healthy Lifestyle.

Unsafe Living Conditions

This can mean living in an abusive relationship or surrounding oneself with people who make poor choices or who are dangerous and cruel. It can also mean living in unsafe housing.8

  • Removing oneself from these conditions involves, first, recognizing the effect they are having and then making some difficult choices. Visit for some helpful resources.

A History of Child Abuse

People who’ve experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children have many difficulties as adults. One problem can be depression.8

  • It is not easy to confront what has happened but with help this can and should be done to help a person move on. Speak to your doctor. To help initiate this discussion with a doctor and for some helpful discussion tips read the Discussion Guide.

Negative Life Circumstances

People who live in poverty or who are all alone are more prone to depression and their recovery can be slowed by the difficult realities they face daily.8 Others may struggle with poor working conditions, unemployment, the loss of a loved one, divorce or other misfortunes.8

  • Some of these circumstances can be changed or improved, while others require coping strategies for dealing with their effects.
  • In some circumstances, discussing the situation with a friend or loved one can help the person cope better with the situation. Building a support network can be of great assistance along the road to recovery. To find out more about building a support network visit Your Support Network.