Depression Treatment and Addiction

What is Depression?

Dual Diagnosis for Depression
Depression and Addiction

Depression is characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, emptiness, loneliness, anger and sometimes suicidal thoughts. It is estimated that ten percent of the general population suffers from a depressive disorder at some point. Depressive symptoms affect an individual's relationships, ability to work, school attendance, daily activities and health.

Some individuals use drugs and alcohol to cope with unwanted feelings, making depression worse. Many substances produce depressive symptoms, both while under the influence and  during withdrawal. Relief from depressive symptoms through substance abuse is temporary and the addict will increase use as depression worsens.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression causes significant distress in social, occupational and other functioning. Symptoms of depression need to be treated medically to decrease self-medication by substance abuse.

Such symptoms include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Decreased motivation
  • Appetite disturbance
  • False guilt
  • Poor concentration
  • Hopelessness
  • Significant weight change
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression and Substance Abuse

The American Society of Addiction Medicine states it is common to find opiate and alcohol abuse amongst the depressed population. This is because an individual may find temporary relief from the overwhelming symptoms of depression through substance abuse. However, it is important to understand that chronic use of alcohol and/or drugs can mimic depressive symptoms. Isolation, irritability and fatigue are examples of such crossover symptoms.  

Suffering from addiction while struggling with depression can make it seem like stopping substance abuse is too difficult. Furthermore, substance abuse prevents depression medication from being effective. Finding support from staff in a drug rehab helps individuals cope with depression while going through detox and completing addiction treatment.

Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse

The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that addicts who suffer from personality disorders also have severe psychosocial and medical problems. Personality disorders present with extreme fluctuations in depression, shame and anger as well as significant increases in conflict in interpersonal relationships, behavioral issues, impulsivity and even suicidal gestures.

A lack of stability, both internal and external, lead the personality disordered addict to seek alcohol or drugs to regulate mood, thoughts and behaviors. Anxiety is one of the main emotional disturbances found in personality disordered individuals who also suffer from addiction. Other emotional disturbances, such as disorganized thinking, produced by symptoms of personality disorders will contribute an individual turning to excessive substance abuse to cope with symptoms. The most common substances abused are alcohol, cocaine and opiates, all of which require detox and drug rehabilitation.

Depression and Addiction Treatment

Patients suffering from depression are twice as likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse alters chemicals in the brain, which exacerbates depression or contributes to the development of depressive symptoms that were not present before. An integrated approach of dual diagnosis treatment for depression and addiction is essential to alleviate depressive symptoms while eliminating substance abuse.