Alcohol and drug abuse frequently co-occur with various psychiatric conditions, such as depressive disorders like major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. In fact, about 50% of people with a substance addiction also experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives—vice versa is true as well.1
This is of particular concern in Massachusetts, as nearly 19% of adults in this state were diagnosed with a depressive disorder in 2020.2 Individuals with depression may frequently turn to substance abuse to self-medicate, and although these substances may temporarily alleviate distressing depressive symptoms, they ultimately exacerbate the symptoms over time.1 If you struggle with depression and substance abuse, it’s important to seek out a dual diagnosis treatment program in Boston or another part of Massachusetts.
Depressive disorders frequently co-occur with substance use disorders. These depressive disorders vary from condition to condition, but a common feature of all of them is the persistent presence of irritable, empty, or sad mood, accompanied by cognitive and bodily changes that impair a person’s ability to function.3
Note: While bipolar disorders and depressive disorders used to fall under the same umbrella in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-4), they are now separated into two categories in the DSM-5: Depressive Disorders and Bipolar and Related Disorders.3 As such, we haven’t included bipolar disorders in this guide.
Major depressive disorder, which is one of the most common types of mental illness, is characterized by the following:3
Individuals with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder frequently exhibit verbal rages and/or physically aggressive behaviors toward property or other people. These temper outbursts are significantly out of proportion in duration or intensity to the situation.3
These outbursts occur at least three or more times per week, and the individual’s mood between these outbursts is consistently angry or irritable most of the time. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is diagnosed in children and adolescents over age 6 and under age 18.
People with postpartum depression experience clinically significant depression during pregnancy or after delivery. The symptoms of postpartum depression, such as severe anxiety and sadness, make it difficult for new parents to function and care for themselves and their babies.4
Individuals with seasonal affective disorder experience depressive symptoms during the winter when there is less sunlight. Generally, their depression alleviates once spring hits. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:4
Depression and addiction affect each other in such a complex and profound way that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to establish which condition developed first. And that’s okay, as long as both disorders are treated fully with an integrated treatment plan.
Both depressive disorders and substance use disorders impact treatment progress and outcome for the other condition. For example, if you only receive treatment for your drug or alcohol addiction, you are at risk of relapsing once you complete treatment—this is because you won’t be equipped with the coping skills you need to deal with your depressive symptoms. Likewise, if you receive treatment solely for your depression, then you may continue to use substances, which may worsen your depression.
Because these conditions affect treatment outcomes, it’s important to seek a dual diagnosis treatment program in Boston or another part of Massachusetts. Dual diagnosis treatment programs specialize in providing comprehensive services for both depression and addiction.
Dual diagnosis treatment programs in Boston begin treatment with an intake evaluation, which assesses:
The treatment team at the Boston dual diagnosis treatment program will use this information to create a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs. Your dual diagnosis treatment plan may include:5