Is Depression Related to Substance Abuse?

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July 25, 2017

How to Handle Depression Related To Substance Abuse

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there is a strong link between depression and substance abuse. How is depression related to substance abuse? Each condition will exacerbate the issues of the other. The term coined for this condition is dual diagnosis. People with a substance abuse problem are twice as likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder and vice versa.

Depression and Substance Abuse Share Some Triggers

An article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, referencing a 2013 study, indicates “depression may help predict first-time alcohol dependence.” The relationship between depression and substance abuse may be connected to the following trigger situations:

  • The Brain – Substance abuse and depression both affect similar parts of the brain such as the areas handling stress.
  • Genetics – It can be in your DNA. Genetic factors show that if you are predisposed to develop a mental disorder, it may be followed by substance abuse.
  • Developmental Problems – Drug use in younger people can interfere with normal brain development, which can lead to mental illness. It can also happen in reverse. Mental health issues in children can lead to drug or alcohol abuse later in life.
  • Trauma – A serious trauma can prompt either or both conditions of depression or substance abuse.
  • Family History – When depression and substance abuse is part of an individual’s family environment, that person’s risk of following down the same path is increased.
  • Higher Suicide Risk – When there is a family history of both substance abuse and mental illness, the risk of suicide is significantly higher.

All of these triggers point to the importance of getting treatment as early as possible. Depression and addiction recovery for yourself or your loved one will help restore your life, establish self-worth, and build healthy relationships. If you are in the Boston Area, a simple phone call will connect you to people who can help with locating the right treatment center for you or your loved one.

Symptoms of a Dual Diagnosis

Not all mental illness is the same, and only your doctor can determine your particular problem. There is a strong relationship between depression and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis indicators vary from illness-to-illness, but some common symptoms may be present in most.

  • Individuals withdraw from social connections to family, friends, and other supportive people.
  • The person may experience noticeable weight gain or loss due to a significant change in appetite.
  • The individual may exhibit reckless, angry or violent behavior.
  • There may be changes in sleeping habits including severe insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • The individual may experience severe anxiety.
  • The person may have difficulty concentrating even during a discussion.
  • Delusions and hallucinations may occur frequently.
  • The individual expresses deep feelings of despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
  • The individual has difficulty staying employed due to behavioral problems or absenteeism.
  • Students miss classes and grades suffer as a result.
  • Constant mood swings and behavior issues create problems with relationship maintenance.
  • The individual experiences frequent shifts in moods and energy levels.
  • The person uses drugs or alcohol to cope with the problems in his or her life.

The Effects of Trauma

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a serious trauma can result in the onset of a co-occurring disorder. Many types of trauma can be the trigger including witnessing a death or tragedy, war experiences, physical or sexual abuse, and being the victim of a violent act. When one of these experiences happens to a child or teenager, they are more vulnerable to developing a co-occurring mental health disorder. Brain chemistry is altered when traumatic experiences occur. This places additional stress on children and teens which can result in turning to substance abuse to cope.

It’s important to seek help as soon as the first signs of a problem are noticed. If you are in the greater Boston area, a phone call can connect you to someone ready to help find you the best treatment center for your loved one. Early treatment can prevent physical health problems from complicating the already difficult situation.