The Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse

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When substance use and mental health disorders like depression occur simultaneously in the same person, the diseases are known to “co-occur.” This means that one disorder interacts with the other, and the interaction can affect the prognosis of both disorders. In the United States, 20.3 million adults have been diagnosed with substance use disorders, and 37.9% of this population was also diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Also, 42.1 million adults were diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and 18.2% of this population were also diagnosed with substance use disorders.

What Is the Relationship between Depression and Substance Abuse?

Substance use and mental health disorders interfere with the same regions in the brain. For example, circuits in the brain control your emotions, ability to control yourself, make decisions, and mediate the reward center. These circuits are disrupted when you have a substance use disorder and are experiencing depression. In addition, the brain’s neurotransmitters are also involved with substance use disorders and mental health disorders. These neurotransmitters include norepinephrine, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine.

Physical or emotional trauma throughout childhood is one reason many develop substance use disorders. The results of traumatic experiences may be what causes people to self-medicate with substances so that they can live with their memories.

The environment also influences whether or not someone experiences a substance use disorder. For example, adverse childhood experiences, trauma and chronic stress also contribute to developing these disorders.

depression and substance abuse

Can Substance Abuse Cause Depression?

Substance abuse and depressive disorden often occur together. Substance use does not necessarily cause depression, but depression may lead some people to “self-medicate” with alcohol and/or substances. Substances have the effect of relieving depressive symptoms, but this doesn’t last. Substances also have the effect of exacerbating depressive symptoms and causing depression triggers to appear. This increases the length of time that you experience these symptoms.

What Is the Relationship between Mental Illness and Substance Dependence?

As mentioned above, substance use can lead to mental health disorders because the substances disrupt the same areas of the brain that are affected by mental health disorders. Suppose you begin to ingest substances before you experience symptoms of a mental health disorder. In that case, the substances will change the brain structure and its functioning, triggering your propensity to develop a mental health disorder.

Genetics also play a role in addiction and depression. Researchers believe that several genes and the interactions between these genes may increase the likelihood of developing mental health disorders and substance use disorders.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms to Look Out for in Depression?

Someone experiencing depression may suffer from the symptoms described below:

  • Less physically active
  • Feelings of agitation
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • The inability to concentrate
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Less interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Feeling guilty
  • Hopelessness, uselessness, and pessimism
  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Irritability
  • No longer feeling interested in work or personal goals

What Are the Two Most Common Mental Health Disorders Associated with Addiction?

Researchers learned that a large number of people are currently experiencing substance use disorders and anxiety disorders. These include post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Substance use and depression also co-occur in high numbers, along with antisocial personality disorder, psychotic illness, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Can Alcohol Make You Depressed?

As was mentioned above, alcohol use can lead to changes in the brain that can cause mental health disorders. Although there are several common risk factors for alcohol use disorders and depression, the medical community cannot necessarily determine which disorder caused the other.

What Mental Illness Is Most Associated with Addiction?

In the United States in 2019, approximately 15 million people aged 12 and above had an alcohol use disorder. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common disorder diagnosed worldwide. With these high numbers, it isn’t surprising that substance abuse and depression co-occur in such large numbers.

How Can I Help Someone Suffering from Addiction and Depression?

Mind Body Optimization treats those experiencing several mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. We also treat substance use disorders, and if you are experiencing depression and substance use disorder simultaneously, we offer treatment for co-occurring conditions. We will treat you or your loved one with our holistic therapies that administer to your entire being.

If you are searching for a treatment center to help you or your loved one with depression and substance abuse, contact us today at Mind Body Optimization.