While both depression and addiction can occur individually, it’s not uncommon for people who suffer from one to develop symptoms of the other. When substance abuse occurs simultaneously with depression, the conditions feed off each other and can send the person affected into a dangerous cycle of negativity and addiction.
Depression as a Gateway for Substance Abuse
While depression cannot cause addiction in and of itself, it can trigger a person to turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol. In fact, of all people diagnosed with mental illness, 29% abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Some people with depression may turn to substances as a means of self-medicating their symptoms. Due to the brain-altering effects of drugs and alcohol, users may become reliant on how the substances make them feel, which only heightens the feelings of depression once the effects of the substance wear off. In teens, first-time drug use is higher among those who have had depressive episodes than those who have not.
Depression as a Result of Addiction
In some cases, substance abuse results in an individual developing symptoms of depression. Some substances, such as alcohol, are depressants and can amplify feelings of sadness or fatigue. Others, such as opioid painkillers, can result in and amplify feelings such as hopelessness, despair, and guilt often associated with depression because of how they affect the brain’s reward and pleasure sensors.
When a substance abuse problem and depression occur together, it’s known as a co-occurring disorder. The symptoms of each can be similar, so it can be hard to detect or differentiate between them, especially when they’re occurring at the same time. In the case of co-occurring disorders, it can be important to distinguish the link between the depression and the addiction in order to decide on a treatment plan. Those who suffered from depression before addiction may require longer and more in-depth treatment than those whose depression was caused by substance abuse.
The first step to getting well is to have the courage to seek help. At Centrec Care Inc in St. Louis, MO, we’re happy to offer programs and services that can help you or your loved one overcome their addiction and/or depression. Contact us online or call 314-205-8068.