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Does Substance Abuse Cause Depression?

Everyone experiences sadness in some way or another at certain points in their lives.

Depression, however, is not just feeling sad.

Unfortunately, depression is one of the most common mood disorders in the U.S., affecting 16 million American adults each year. Some of the markings of depression include:

  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Attempts at suicide

Depression is a severe mood disorder and can make it difficult to handle day-to-day undertakings. It often drives us to self-medicate for relief.

Substance abuse and depression are often connected. This dual diagnosis needs effective treatment.

The Impact of Depression

Depression comes in many forms. Decreased productivity at work or strains in familial or social relationships usually occur. It can be accompanied by a low sense of self-worth as well as a sense of hopelessness. Depression can also cause us to think irrational thoughts.

Depending on gender, it may present differently. Men can experience increased aggressiveness, while women may experience a loss of energy. Insomnia or difficulty sleeping can also occur as well as irritability. People with depression may find it hard to interact with others due to its strains on their capacity to be social. 

Many struggling with depression tend to isolate themselves. One of the most unfortunate aspects of depression is that it can lead to death, leaving loved ones behind. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 700,00 people die by suicide every year. Fortunately, there are available treatment options to alleviate the symptoms, such as psychotherapy and medications.

The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Depression

For people who struggle with substance abuse, there is a higher risk for depression to occur or worsen. Many people who are unhappy with some aspect of their lives turn to substances to escape from unpleasant feelings. The problem with this is that it can potentially lead to what is called a substance-induced mood disorder. Depression is one such mood disorder. 

Individuals with depression are twice as likely to develop substance use disorder (SUD). Clinicians believe substance use can reveal underlying mood disorders such as depression. This unveiling leads to exacerbated symptoms. Subclinical symptoms then become clinically significant.

When seeking treatment for substance abuse, it is important for the individual to be assessed for any other mental health issues, such as depression. These co-occurring mental disorders are known as a dual diagnosis.

The Biological Effects of Substance Abuse

Depression is marked by irregularities in brain composition. A SUD can cause changes in brain function. Depending on the substance of choice, most individuals rely on its ability to create a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine. In high amounts, this increase in dopamine creates a euphoric state of mind. Over time, however, the region of the brain called the basal ganglia, responsible for the "reward" system, becomes less sensitive, thereby causing the individual to become more tolerant. 

Substance abuse usually occurs more often because of this and leads the individual to believe the only way to enjoy life is through using substances. This, in turn, leads to a lack of interest in things previously enjoyed and keeps the person pursuing environments where substances are available because it becomes their only means of satisfaction. As a result, this can lead to dependency. Dependency can cause disruptions in work due to a lack of concentration and strains in relationships.   

The region of the brain that regulates emotion is also disrupted, which impairs self-control, thus leading to impulsive behavior toward substances, which is why trying to stop taking them can become difficult. Once the brain has grown accustomed to excessive pleasure, any stress factor can push the individual to abuse again to cope with or avoid the triggers of excessive lows. Many of these lows can produce suicidal ideation. While it does compromise self-control to a degree, you still have the autonomy to seek help.  

Treatment Options

The best way to avoid depression is to avoid substance use and maintain a structured and well-balanced life. However, if you struggle with substance abuse, there is help.

While quitting substances can be challenging, it is also possible, and you are accountable for your recovery. Many have accomplished this, and so can you. The earlier you seek help, the smoother the transition.

There is a wide breadth of treatment centers that have several programs to best suit your needs. Some require medications and a combination of talk therapy such as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Exploring the programs a particular drug rehab or addiction center use is a smart move.

Good nutrition and exercise are recommended for people who complete a treatment program. It is also important to dissociate yourself from the people and places that once were tied to your substance use. Also, speak to your loved ones for support. They will be essential in your recovery.

Substance abuse may have pushed them away, but your recovery can bring them back. If you do not have family assistance, support groups are available in an outpatient setting. If someone you know struggles with substance abuse, behavioral intervention is an option as it can help motivate them to change. 

Holistic Ways to Cope with Depression

Depression is a harsh card to be dealt, so taking the necessary steps to prevent it is vital. If one already struggles with depression, there are holistic methods to cope. As mentioned above, exercise is highly recommended. Taking a walk outside or practicing yoga in a park can significantly elevate one's mood.

Meditation is another beneficial means to alleviate symptoms of depression by helping clear the mind of negative thoughts. Herbal teas and massages can be useful as well.

Just know that wherever you are on your journey, you are not alone. Have compassion for yourself and make it a point to find healthier lifestyle choices. 

Find Dual Diagnosis Care Today with

The combination of depression with substance abuse can be serious. Fortunately, dual diagnosis is treatable. Treatment for substance abuse should always start with drug detox.

Finding a drug detox center can be a stiff challenge, however. It’s why we developed Our directory of detox sites puts data on hundreds of drug detox centers at your fingertips. With our site, you’ll be able to treat your depression and substance abuse effectively and efficiently.

Don’t let depression and substance abuse ruin your life. Find a drug rehab near you today with!

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