How is Depression and Addiction Related?
Around five in ten people who experience a substance use disorder or addiction will also experience a mental illness, including depression, at some point in their lives, and vice versa. It might be surprising to know that people who suffer from a mild or severe depression cycle also have a higher risk of becoming addicted to illicit substances than people who don’t have depression.1
However, depression isn’t the cause of addiction, nor is addiction the cause of depression. Instead, depression, brought on by various circumstances like genetics or chemical deficiencies, increases a person’s susceptibility to addiction. This is because those who suffer from depression generally don’t have as high of levels of serotonin. This often means that they turn to drugs, alcohol, and other substances in order to help elevate their mood.
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What Is Depression?
Depression is a mood and mental health disorder that can cause many difficulties in one’s daily life. It generally comes with intense feelings of sadness, emptiness and numbness, irritability, hopelessness, and isolation.
This mood disorder plays a significant role in how you think, feel, and act. Depression has a negative impact on emotional and physical well-being, as well as personal relationships, jobs, and financial health.2
In the depression cycle, these feelings of sadness and hopelessness are often persistent and can last for periods of weeks, months, or years. After such a long time of feeling this way, many symptoms of depression can worsen, leading one to substance use.
Causes of Depression
- Brain chemistry
- Family history or genetics
- Events of life
- Medical conditions
- Hormone levels
- Giving birth
Types of Depressive Disorders
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
This depression disorder is also known as dysthymia or dysthymic disorder. Its symptoms persist every day for at least two years or more. People with PDD may seem to be irritable, moody, or gloomy. They may also experience episodes of major depressive disorder, but the symptoms will be less severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
New mothers have a history of falling into depression or anxiety. For many women, the shift from motherhood can cause them to have emotional difficulties, nutritional deficiencies, and exposure to chemical toxins, leading to postpartum depression.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
This is a severe type of premenstrual disorder (PMS). It affects women during the week or so leading up to the start of their menstrual period.
How Are Depression and Addiction Related?
- Substance use disorders can result from mental health issues, including depression.
- The use of drugs or alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of depression.
- Depression and substance abuse can coexist at the same time due to overlapping or underlying conditions.
Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse
Common Risk Factors
- Traumatic childhood experiences
- Family members with a depressive disorder or substance use abuse
- Severe medical conditions
- Changes in life events
- Financial instability
- History of poor coping skills
- Long-term unemployment
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of depression and substance abuse vary, depending on the type of disorder and the person. However, there are some common signs of both disorders to be aware of.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Changes in appetite and sleep
- Feelings of hopelessness or uselessness
- Lack of interest in things the person used to enjoy
- Low self-esteem or worth
- Feelings of guilt
- Lack of concentration
- Physical aches and pain
- Suicidal thoughts
- Constant feelings of agitation
- Engaging in less physical activity
Indications of Substance Misuse
- Reduced daily functioning
- Decreased physical health
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Financial strain and instability
- Reduced participation in hobbies
- Increased isolation and less social interaction
Depression’s Relationship to Certain Substances
Depression and Alcohol
Depression and Marijuana Abuse
Depression and Stimulants
Stimulants, like other drugs, can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. Stimulants may create complicated reactions, including a rise in substance cravings.
While stimulants like cocaine and MDMA may temporarily make you happy, after the high wears off, they can make you even more depressed. As a result, you may need more stimulants to get the same results, which can start an addiction and depression cycle.
Depression After Using Drugs
Treatment for Co-Occurring Depression and Substance Abuse
When a person experiences depression and substance abuse disorder simultaneously, they are called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an effective therapy option used to treat various addictions, and it is also effective for treating depression. CBT helps people channel and change the negative thought patterns that contribute to depression.
This treatment method helps people critically analyze their interactions, activities, behaviors, and environment in order to reframe things and see them in a more positive light.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Problem-Solving Therapy (PST)
PST aids patients in overcoming challenging life events and experiences. Therapists guide patients through a step-by-step procedure to identify issues and develop practical, workable remedies.
In the treatment of addiction, various evidence-based and approved treatment processes are also used. Here are some of the therapies used to treat addiction:
Contingency Management (CM)
Contingency management is a treatment plan that is highly effective in treating the cycle of substance abuse. CM is a form of behavioral treatment where people are “reinforced” or rewarded for showing signs of changing their behavior for the better.5
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
Motivational enhancement therapy offers clarity and resolution for people battling uncertainty about soberness and treatment. This strategy helps to accelerate internal change by boosting one’s drive and optimism.
The Matrix Model
12-step programs encourage active participation in fellowship and sobriety. These programs advocate normalizing the struggles of addiction, embracing helplessness, and yielding to a greater power. They are also often included in outpatient and inpatient care programs.
Medications Used to Manage Depression
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Atypical antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Disulfiram is one of the drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat chronic alcoholism and dependence. With naltrexone being the first-line treatment, disulfiram is the second-line option for patients under enough clinical supervision.
Disulfiram causes you to have bad and unpleasant reactions whenever you drink alcohol, leading to a decrease in usage of the substance.
In certain studies, topiramate, while not approved by the FDA for treating alcohol addiction and dependence, has been shown to improve drinking consequences. It is a treatment medication used in outpatient settings.
Methadone is an FDA-approved synthetic opioid agonist medication used to treat opioid addiction. This medication works by reducing the craving for opioids and severe withdrawal symptoms. When used as prescribed, it is effective and safe.
Pursue Treatment Today
Without proper treatment for depression, addiction, or co-occurring disorders, the conditions may persist and impact your life.
Contact Ripple Ranch Recovery today to discuss available treatment options. We will be with you every step of the way during recovery.
- 3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7592633/
- 5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083448/