Substance abuse treatment facilities offer a variety of services and treatment options. Many of these interventions are also effective in treating and managing some mental health diagnoses, such as depression.
When a person is diagnosed with a mental health disorder while also struggling with addiction, it is referred to as a comorbid or co-occurring disorder.
It is extremely common for a person who has been struggling with addiction to also be diagnosed with a mental health condition. Whether a person started abusing substances as a way to self-medicate or developed the mental health condition as an effect of the substance abuse, it is possible to successfully receive treatment for both depression and addiction while in rehab.
Did Depression Cause The Addiction?
Untreated depression can result in a number of symptoms, like social isolation, anger, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, weight gain, or fatigue. Some people start to abuse drugs to avoid or manage some of those feelings.
Abusing substances to attempt to manage depression makes about as much sense as managing cancer with heroin. Regardless of the intention, abusing drugs or alcohol to self-medicate can quickly lead to addiction.
Once addicted, any attempts to stop or reduce drug or alcohol consumption will be met with harsh, painful withdrawal symptoms, and cravings for more substances of abuse.
Or Did Addiction Cause the Depression?
Many drugs of abuse are depressants and can worsen existing depressive symptoms. And the aftereffect of many stimulant drugs causes a person to plummet into a depression like-state until the brain recovers.
When a person is addicted to a substance, it changes the structure of the brain. Small cells, called neurons, are connected all across your brain. These neurons communicate through different kinds of neurotransmitters.
Substance abuse and addiction actually change the way these neurons communicate and how much of certain neurotransmitters are released and absorbed. When the brain becomes disrupted by substance abuse, it can result in depressive symptoms.
Some of the changes caused by drugs and alcohol might be permanent. Others can be corrected by abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and mental activities that strengthen other pathways.
What Does Depression Look Like?
There are different types of depression, but they have similar symptoms.
It is important to see a mental health provider if you have experienced these signs for more than two weeks straight:
- loss of interest in things, you used to enjoy
- emotional instability
- changes in sleeping habits
- problems focusing
- poor hygiene
- changes in weight
- constantly worrying
- low self-worth
- suicidal ideation
Additional warning signs of depression can be drinking more than normal, abusing a prescription for painkillers or sedatives, or using street drugs.
Abusing these substances can result in a cycle of self-destruction. While on the drugs, you may feel better, but after they wear off, you may be left feeling depressed, sad, empty, or guilty.
Younger groups of people may experience depression as irritability, frustration, or anger. Using illegal substances or drinking may increase their feelings of well-being, but it also raises the possibility of engaging in risky or dangerous situations.
Depression, Addiction, And Suicide
Research has shown a connection between all facets of depression, suicide, and addiction. Because depression affects so many people (over 20 million diagnoses per year), abusing substances like drugs and alcohol can put a number of people at risk for suicide.
Not only that, but alcohol has been reportedly involved in about 30 percent of all suicides, and that number is significantly higher in men. Of those people who have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), approximately seven percent of them will commit suicide.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been diagnosed in over sixty percent of suicides.
It is undeniable that depression, addiction, and suicide are connected. These connections are why many substance abuse treatment facilities are already equipped to treat comorbid diagnoses like depression.
Getting Help For Depression And Addiction
Addiction rehabilitation facilities offer services that help treat depression as part of managing addiction. Treating mental health issues is already a part of substance abuse treatment rehabilitation.
If you are struggling with addiction or depression, if you think you might be self-medicating for a mental illness, or if you think your substance abuse or addiction is causing you to experience a mental health episode, you may want to take some of these steps:
- go see your healthcare provider to see if there are underlying issues to your symptoms
- schedule an appointment with a mental health provider to explore depressive symptoms
- seek out an addiction treatment specialist that treats co-morbid mental health issues
- prepare to lean on your support system or build up one to lean on
- accept the need for help and commit to treatment and recovery
Comorbid Treatment For Addiction And Depression
Finding a facility that meets all your needs, as well as one that can treat both addiction and mental health diagnoses will be significantly easier if you reach out to one of our specially trained professionals.
There is someone ready and available to speak to you about what kind of substance abuse treatment options are available for you in your area. Please contact us today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences Cambridge - Epidemiology of suicide: recent developments
- Journal of Affective Disorders - Reciprocal relationships between substance use and disorders and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in the Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism
- Psychiatry Research - Double screening for dual disorder, alcoholism and depression
- Psychiatry Research - Factors associated with lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in outpatients with substance use disorders