Addiction & DepressionSan Diego Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
Addiction & Depression Treatment
It might seem unlikely because most people view depression as a mental illness and addiction as a character flaw or lack of willpower. However, the causes of addiction are rooted in more than a person’s character or inner strength. In fact, some people argue that addiction and depression can go hand-in-hand, and it seems like there might be a cycle of depression and periods of substance abuse or addiction.
What is Depression?
According to Mental Health America, nearly 20 percent or 50 million adults in the United States experience severe depression while a little over 15 percent of older children experience it. Nearly a third of these cases will turn to drug or alcohol abuse as a way of self-medicating.
This addiction begins as part of the person’s desire to feel better. For the person suffering from depression, it becomes easy or in their view, necessary to use a substance or take part in some other form of addiction.
What is Addiction?
In the case of depression and addiction, the addiction is typically some form of substance abuse, such as alcohol, stimulants, prescription painkillers, or other drugs. When a person is addicted to a substance, it’s more than a casual usage and is instead a chronic urge and dependence.
The use of the substance is compulsive, and the person who struggles with addiction can’t stop using their substance of choice without help. This substance abuse affects every area of their lives from relationships to work and school.
The Cycle of Depression & Self-Medication
In order to know if the person is self-medicating, they could ask themselves these five questions:
- Has the person tried to stop using the substance and not be able to stop?
- Does the person ever have a craving for the substance?
- Does the person use the substance to alter their mood?
- Does the person’s use of the substance create problems in their personal or business life?
- Does the person need more of their desired substance now than they did when they first started using it to feel the same way?
A person who sees themselves reflected in these questions can seek treatment for both depression and addiction. It is possible to break this cycle with the help of a mental health professional.
Stimulants & Depression
The depression can drive the person to continually increase the dosage of the stimulant to return to that place of euphoria. This can create a cycle of alternating between depression and addiction. Some most commonly abused stimulants include:
Marijuana & Depression
People who struggle with depression are finding it easier than ever to gain access to marijuana, and they can begin to abuse the substance to offset their feelings of depression. While the person might initially gain some relief from their depression symptom, it is possible to also reap negative side effects.
The use of marijuana can have an effect on a person’s moods, cognitive function, motor control, and more. Researchers are studying the possibility that the abuse of marijuana can create mood disorders in the users.
Alcohol & Depression
Many people create routines that include the use of alcohol, such as getting a drink with coworkers after a long day or toasting a joyous occasion with champagne or beer. This routine can make it much easier for a person struggling with depression to slip into the pattern of abusing alcohol.
Researchers have found a strong correlation between depression and other mood disorders and people who drink heavily. Almost a third of individuals who abuse alcohol also struggle with some sort of concurrent mental health issue, such as depression.
Treatment for People with Depression & Addiction
The recovery programs are able to address both substance abuse and depression by developing an individualized treatment plan. Treating both disorders at the same time gives each person their best chance at recovery and the chance to reclaim their life.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Sanjai Thankachen
Dr. Sanjai Thankachen graduated from Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medicine in 2000. He completed his residency in psychiatry in 2008 at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York. Dr. Thankachen is currently working with Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialists in an outpatient practice, as well as working at multiple in-patient psychiatric and medical units bringing his patients the most advanced healthcare treatment in psychiatry. Dr. Thankachen sees patients with an array of disorders, including depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia, anxiety, and dementia-related problems.
Edited for Clinical Accuracy By:
Sean Leonard, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Sean Leonard is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner. He received his master’s degree in adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner from Walden University and a second postmaster specialty in psychiatry mental health nurse practitioner from Rocky Mountain University. Sean has experience working in various diverse settings, including an outpatient clinic, inpatient detox and rehab, psychiatric emergency, and dual diagnosis programs. His specialty areas include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, ADHD, and OCD.
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