Dual Diagnosis

What Are the Connections Between Depression and Addiction?

There are links between depression and addiction. Known as a dual diagnosis, both conditions are treatable. Learn more in our blog.

What Are the Connections Between Depression and Addiction?

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 13, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

The National Institute of Mental Health explains that about half of people who struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) also have a mental health disorder, which could range from depression to anxiety. The combination of an alternative disorder along with substance use disorder refers to dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders. 

If you are feeling alone and down from depression, using a substance can feel like an escape from reality. This can lead to an addiction. What’s worse, you could potentially develop a mental health condition from drug use because of the changes your brain is experiencing, along with the isolation from struggling with substance use disorder.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a serious mental disorder which affects millions of Americans. Far from simply a bad mood, depression is a condition with physical and mental symptoms.

The majority of the time, depression affects your daily responsibilities, such as attending work or school, sleeping, eating, and can even cause changes in the way you think and feel. However, to be clinically diagnosed with depression, the symptoms need to be present for at least two weeks. 

Different types of depression can be present at different points in your life.

Major Depression

You could be diagnosed with major depression if this is something you are feeling most of the time. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder 

This is a milder form of major depression, consisting of less severe symptoms that last for a longer period. 

Perinatal Depression 

This occurs when a woman feels major depression during pregnancy or after giving birth, which is postpartum depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This form of depression — called SAD — occurs when the seasons change, specifically from late fall to winter. Seasonal affective disorder only lasts during these cold months and then typically goes away during the summer and spring months.

Depression With Psychosis

This is a much more severe form of depression that also includes hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

A person with depression may not experience all its symptoms. However, they will likely experience some of the following signs:

  • Constant feelings of sadness or emptiness

  • The lack of interest in hobbies or activities you once used to love

  • Decreased energy and constant fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things

  • Insomnia 

  • Thoughts of suicide or thinking about death in general 

  • Unexplainable pains or digestive problems

What Is Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as a treatable medical disease that involves different aspects of a person, such as their brain circuits, life experiences, genetics, and the environment they are in daily.  

In recent years, society's view on SUD has continued to get better. There is now much more empathy, and people are starting to understand that drug addiction is more of a disease than a choice that people have.

There are also two different forms of addiction that you can struggle with: chemical addiction and behavioral addiction.

Chemical Addiction 

This is a form of addiction that involves the abuse of substances such as:

Behavioral Addiction

This form of addiction involves compulsive behaviors, specifically continuing to partake in the behavior regardless of the consequences that follow. Some examples include gambling addiction and sex addiction. 

Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Addiction
  • Intense substance cravings

  • Having to increase the amount of the substance you are using so that you can continue to feel the substance’s effects

  • Taking a lot of risks to use the substance, such as while driving or with family. 

  • Not being able to quit or feeling withdrawal symptoms when you do quit. 

Signs and Symptoms of Behavioral Addiction
  • You are spending a big chunk of your day engaging in certain behavior.

  • If you are hiding the behavior or lying to people you care about

  • Continuing the behavior even when you feel bad about it or it's causing you distress

How Are Depression & Addiction Connected?

Unfortunately, both depression and addiction can be connected because they can cause one another. If you are struggling with depression and it becomes too much to handle, sometimes people will turn to substance abuse or other reckless behaviors to mask the symptoms of depression. It can also happen the other way around; if you are struggling with SUD, you could be feeling isolated from your friends and family, mixed with brain alterations from the drugs that could bring on depression. 

Your genetics, life experiences, and environment also play a significant role in the potential of you developing a co-occurring disorder, such as depression and substance use disorder.

This combination is known as a dual diagnosis.

Treatments for Dual Diagnosis

The main thing to remember about both addiction and depression is that they are treatable. The Edge Treatment Center provides individualized treatments based on your specific set of needs through a team of professionals and a community to depend upon. 

There are a few different types of treatment available for you, such as behavioral therapies and inpatient or outpatient treatments. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy 

Also called CBT, this form of therapy helps clients change the way they think about harmful beliefs and harmful behaviors. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy that specifically helps the client control suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 

Motivational Interviewing

This form of therapy (MI) focuses on helping the client find the motivation and strength to want to change on their own.

Depression and Addiction Are Treatable at The Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center uses proven, evidence-based treatment to treat dual diagnosis and substance abuse. Our programs were built from the ground up to provide a trauma-informed, safe, and welcoming place to recover from dual diagnosis.

Don’t suffer from depression and addiction. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and begin your journey to a happier life!

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