Depression and Substance Abuse
What is depression?
What is substance abuse?
The link between depression and substance abuse
Different types of clinical depression
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common type of clinical depression. Major depression is marked by a persistent feeling of sadness that lasts for at least two weeks. People with major depression may also experience physical symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, and loss of interest in hobbies.
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is a type of clinical depression that lasts for at least two years.
- Bipolar disorder includes symptoms of depression, but it is often accompanied by episodes of mania or hypomania.
Alcohol and depression symptoms
Drugs and depression symptoms
Drugs like opioids, cocaine, and amphetamines are extremely addictive substances that can worsen the symptoms of depression. People who have a history of depression or anxiety are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. Depression can make it harder for people to quit drugs or recover from opioid addiction. Many people who have both depression and addiction disorders also have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation. Withdrawal symptoms from drug abuse can also worsen depression when people are seeking treatment for drug dependence, which is why it is critical to treat depression and depressive symptoms simultaneously.
What other mental disorders are associated with addiction?
Dangers of untreated depression
Dangers of untreated addiction
Common substances used to cope with depression
- Alcohol – Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances among people with depression. People with depression may turn to alcohol to create a relaxed, euphoric feeling that can help them forget about their negative feelings. Research has also shown that alcohol can be effective in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms in the short term. However, alcohol is also associated with a high risk of dependence and addiction, and over the long term, it can worsen anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders.
- Prescription drugs – Certain prescription drugs, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, can be very helpful in treating the symptoms of depression. While they can help, some of these drugs can also lead to abuse and addiction.
- Illegal drugs – Marijuana, cocaine, and opioids are illegal drugs that are often abused by people who suffer from depression. Marijuana and other substances may help temporarily reduce depression symptoms, but they are also known to worsen anxiety disorders.
- Other substances – Other substances that may be used by people with depression include tobacco, caffeine, and other drugs. These drugs are also addictive and can create dangerous and unpredictable mood swings that can exacerbate mental illness and even lead to a new mood disorder.
Effects of substance use on depression
- Substance use may trigger depression in certain people – Some people may have a genetic disposition towards both depression and substance abuse. Research has shown that people who have a history of depression in their family are more likely to experience both disorders.
- Substance use may increase the risk of depression – Drug abuse can also increase the risk of depression, especially with prolonged use.
- Substance use may disrupt treatment for depression – Using substances to cope with depression may make it difficult to follow a treatment plan for the disorder.
- Substance use may make it harder to recognize symptoms of depression – Substance use can create a mental fog that makes it harder to recognize symptoms of depression.
Prevention strategies for depression and substance abuse
- Get support – Talking to a loved one about your feelings and asking for help when you need it can make a difference. Joining a support group for people who suffer from depression and substance abuse can also help.
- Engage in self-care – Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding substances that may trigger cravings for more are all helpful ways to prevent depression and substance abuse.
- Make healthy choices – Avoid self-medicating with legal or illegal substances and not getting enough sleep, as this can make co-occurring depression worse.
- Seek addiction treatment – Often people need to get professional help for their negative emotions and their co-occurring addiction. SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors can help with depression, and counseling can make it easier to manage the common symptoms of depression.
Treatment options for depression and substance abuse
- Psychotherapy – Therapy can be very effective in treating both depression and substance abuse.
- Medications – Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can be helpful in treating both depression and substance abuse.
- Twelve-step programs – Twelve-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other support groups are helpful in treating both depression and substance abuse.
- Other interventions – Other interventions that can be helpful include mind-body techniques, acupuncture, and meditation.
- Comorbidity treatment – Finally, there exist some specific treatment options designed to treat both depression and substance abuse at once. Rehabs can help people with co-occurring depression, mood disorders, and alcohol use disorder by offering integrated treatment.