Depression and Addiction

Depression is most common amongst those who are suffering from drugs or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse may trigger feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness, frequently linked with depression. It is estimated that 1/3 of individuals struggling with significant depression also suffer from drug or alcohol dependence. 

For the people who are suffering from depression, those low emotional periods do not disappear quickly. Clinical depression is a severe mental disability that creates grave consequences for people suffering from it. Millions of people suffer from depression and substance abuse, which keeps them from living happy, healthy lifestyles. It has been estimated that 10% of Americans suffer from a psychiatric disorder. While most people who experience clinical depression will suffer for weeks, months, and sometimes even years, clinical depression interferes with a person’s entire life, including their capability to work and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

People who struggle with depression will usually turn to drugs and alcohol as a solution to their issues. Using substances will temporarily subside the emotional pain, but when used longterm, it can become addictive. The more drugs or alcohol consumed, the higher the chance you’ll become more dependent. Over time, substance addiction accelerates depression symptoms, which leads to health issues like brain damage. 

Depression and AddictionDual Diagnosis for Depression and Substance Abuse

Depression and substance abuse is widespread among many people. Alcohol, which is a central nervous system depressant, can trigger depression symptoms like lethargy, sadness, and hopelessness. 

Regardless, many people suffering from depression use substances to numb painful thoughts or uplift spirits. The consequences become that the addiction and depression feed into each other, strengthening the condition of each, making them worse.

Dual diagnosis is a definition for someone who suffers from depression and addiction. Any combination can make this diagnosis of substances and mental health disorders. The more common form of dual diagnosis includes depressive disorders. Studies have shown that one of three adults struggling with substance abuse also suffers from depression.

Clinical depression poses a higher risk of self-harm, accidental injury, and possibly suicide. Depression can also suppress the immune system, which weakens the body and makes you more susceptible to physical ailments and illnesses. Using substances only heightens the risks of negative consequences to your physical and emotional health. Enrollment into a residential program can help with depression and addiction by leading patients in recapturing a healthy and sober lifestyle.

Understanding Depression

Those who are struggling with depression usually find themselves facing challenges daily. Depression often overlaps addiction signs, which makes it crucial that sufferers receive proper treatment for each disorder. People suffering from depression and addiction usually display lifestyle habits that include:

  • Blowing off hobbies and social activities
  • Denying they have an addiction
  • Disruptions to personal relationships
  • Isolating themselves from everyone

People suffering from depression will be continuously craving the high which is produced by taking drugs or alcohol. But, long-term substance abuse to relieve depression symptoms will ultimately damage the user’s life.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms will vary depending on which form you suffer from. Co-occurring disorders, which include alcohol and substance addiction, may increase the severity of their symptoms. 

People suffering from depression have about a ten percent chance of suicide risk. When depression is coupled with substance abuse, the suicide risk rises to nearly 25%.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Becoming irritable often
  • Feelings useless and hopeless
  • Appetite and weight fluctuations
  • Lacking interest in school, work, and personal goals
Severe symptoms of depression include:

  • Delusions 
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Using substances to deal with depression

Most people facing depression will experience one or more symptoms at some point. However, people with severe forms of depression may experience symptoms that can be dangerous and sometimes life-threatening.

Symptoms of Addiction

Physical signs of addiction can create side effects like severe withdrawal symptoms. It may be tough to pinpoint the physical signs of addiction, but when severe withdrawal effects are present, the user will require urgent medical treatment. Also, it is crucial to recognize when withdrawal symptoms arise. Withdrawal from substances is a natural process, but it also can be hazardous without medical assistance.


Physical signs of substance addiction may include:

  • Looking dirty
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Restlessness
  • Bad body odor
  • Slurred speech
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Poor physical condition
Psychological signs of substance addiction may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Inattentiveness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Personality or attitude changes
  • Emotional and mental withdrawal
Signs of an overdose may include:

  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressiveness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sleepiness or trouble walking
Substance abuse withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Losing appetite
  • Headaches and illness
  • Shakiness and trembling
  • Fatigue and restlessness

Loved ones are often key players in getting someone suffering from depression and addiction enlisted in an addiction treatment program. Although there may be obstacles in lending help, witnessing the signs and symptoms of substance addiction will usually motivate a loved one to take action. When a loved one knows the substance used, they can educate themselves on additional ways to help the addict.

Causes of Depression

Depression is a complex disease in which no one knows precisely what causes it, but it occurs for various reasons. Some will experience depression from a severe medical illness, while others due to life changes like moving or the death of a loved one. 

Still, some people have a family history of depression. Those who do suffer from depression will feel overwhelmed with loneliness and sadness for unknown reasons. Several factors can increase the chance of depression which include:

  • Abuse
  • Conflict
  • Death 
  • Genetics
  • Major events
  • Serious illnesses
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain medications
  • Other personal problems

Causes of Addiction

There are many different stages of substance addiction. The early stage is the ability to function with their addiction. They maintain work and relationship duties, but their personal life will suffer because of their addiction. That outcome is the most typical situation. 

The late stages of substance addiction are when the subject becomes non-functioning. They don’t have a job, and they must obtain and use substances daily. The consequences will get worse over time. Addiction is a growing disease that is very difficult to quit without treatment. But for those who’ve already suffered effects of addiction, the time is now to seek a treatment program.

Some common causes of addiction include:

  • Genetic factors contribute to about 50-60 percent of substance addiction 
  • Inadequate coping abilities for dealing with stress
  • Thinking negatively with an all-or-nothing attitude
  • Underlying depression or anxiety

The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol 

Addiction hurts both a user’s appearance and other physical changes that take place after long-term substance abuse. But, the emotional effects of alcoholism and addiction are often less known. Addiction usually goes hand in hand with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and anger. 

When someone is struggling with alcoholism or addiction feels these emotions, they’ll typically turn to use substances to cope. Once withdrawal kicks in, the feelings will worsen, and more of the substances will be needed just to feel normal.  

The challenges of withdrawal aren’t the only obstacle users encounter. They’ll also have trouble controlling their emotions at all stages of the addiction. The devices of impulse, cravings, addiction make chemical changes to the brain that intensifies as the addiction continues. Those struggling with substance addiction could face feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, and worthlessness. 

Does Alcohol Cause Depression? 

Alcohol is a depressant that causes users problems to become worse by making you feel more depressed than you did before you drank. Alcohol also worsens pre-existing depression symptoms like suicidal thoughts, feeling hopeless, or sadness. Alcohol-induced depression symptoms will usually fade after a user has been sober a few weeks. For those who continue to suffer depression after getting sober, seeking appropriate medical advice is highly suggested. 

Is it Common For Users to Develop Depression After Addiction? 

It is typical for an addict to become depressed once they come off of different types of substances or alcohol that they’ve been abusing. This depression usually arrives whenever they attempt sobriety, which drives the addict back to substance abuse. Therefore, addiction must be overcome for someone to achieve long-term sobriety. People might experience both psychological and physical depression symptoms while still addicted and trying to recover. 

The physical effects of drugs and alcohol will overwhelm the body’s natural chemistry with sedatives, stimulants, or depressants. Some substances overstimulate the body’s functions, while others depress functions like breathing or heart rate. Even alcohol depresses respiration when too much is consumed. After the body has been overwhelmed, it will start to lose the ability to produce natural chemicals that affect happiness and pleasure.  The good news is that recovering from depression and addiction is possible, and help is available.

The Importance of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Treatment for dual diagnosis is a form of therapy that addresses both disorders concurrently. dual diagnosis treatment is crucial for identifying and treating a substance use disorder and a mental health illness. Both disorders might be the underlying cause of substance abuse and escalating mental illness symptoms. 

Traditionally, substance addiction and mental health disorder treatments were managed separately. Today, dual diagnosis treatment employs a combined method to address both issues concurrently, which reduces the symptoms from worsening for each condition while treating the opposite.

There are various ways that dual diagnosis treatment programs are used, and since each patient has specific needs, the treatment method will differ for everyone. Treatment must be customized to each patient to address the individual’s needs and concerns. It is challenging to pinpoint the primary disorder due to each case being unique. 

For example, emotional instability could result in self-medicating with substances to soothe the psychological pain. In contrast, some users may experience more severe symptoms of mental illness due to their substance abuse.

Goals of dual diagnosis treatment plans will include: 

  • Educating the patient in understanding their depression
  • Informing the patient that recovery from depression and addiction is conceivable
  • Motivating the patient to make vital changes in their lifestyle
  • Providing the patient with coping skills to handle negative thoughts
  • Assisting the patient in identifying and changing their addictive behavioral patterns

Medication therapy is a critical element of the recovery process for any patients enlisted in dual diagnosis therapy who have also been diagnosed with depression. Antidepressant medications help patients who struggle with this depression to cope with their symptoms and get them back on track to living a healthy, sober lifestyle. 

Dual Diagnosis for Depression and Addiction 

People who don’t enlist the help of dual diagnosis treatments like depression and addiction will experience their conditions to worsen. It is crucial to get help by engaging the help of a specialized treatment center that can treat co-occurring disorders like depression and addiction.

Our team of addiction specialists and medical professionals at Silver Linings understand the complex nature of a dual diagnosis. Our team of addiction specialists assists patients who struggle with depression and addiction at our facilities daily. Upon admissions, our team immediately starts the recovery process. 

Here at Silver Linings Recovery Center, we offer a variety of treatment programs designed to help our patients attain lifelong sobriety while concurrently treating all co-occurring disorders. Contact us today to discuss which plan works best for your condition!


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