Substance abuse can intensify feelings of loneliness and depression. This article discusses the relationship between depression and substance use disorders (SUD). It covers how substance use disorders and depression interact. It also covers how depression can raise the likelihood of substance use disorders. You will also learn about the possible treatments as well as the symptoms connected to these diseases.
Living with depression can lead individuals to engage in self-medication, using alcohol and other substances to alleviate or manage their depressive symptoms. Research indicates that people with depression are nearly twice as likely to self-medicate with alcohol than drugs. There are several common reasons why individuals may resort to self-medication:
Feeling sad, lonely, or angry for extended periods can be emotionally draining. Some individuals use alcohol to relax, temporarily escape distress, or numb emotional pain.
Depression often impairs the ability to experience happiness or joy, even during positive events. Some individuals may rely on alcohol or other substances to feel good or to feel anything at all.
Depression and insomnia often coexist, leading some individuals to seek sedatives for sleep assistance.
Depression can deplete energy levels, partly due to sleep disturbances. Some individuals may use stimulants to feel more alert. While alcohol and drugs may temporarily relieve symptoms, they cannot fully eliminate or address the underlying condition. When substance use is discontinued, depression symptoms usually resurface.
Additionally, prolonged substance use may result in tolerance, requiring larger quantities of the substance to achieve the same effect. Over time, dependence on the substance may develop, further increasing the risk of addiction.
Lack of access to mental health care often contributes to higher rates of self-medication among individuals with untreated depression. Early diagnosis of depression and anxiety in young individuals can reduce the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.
Similar to how depression can influence substance use, substance use disorders can also contribute to depression. More severe substance use disorders are more likely to contribute to depressive symptoms. Substance use can affect depression through four main mechanisms:
Certain substances, especially alcohol, can stimulate the short-term release of dopamine, producing pleasurable feelings. However, they can also lead to inflammation in the brain. Inflammation interferes with the brain’s ability to naturally produce mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
Alcohol and drugs not only reduce levels of mood-boosting chemicals but also elevate stress-related chemicals. For example, individuals who regularly use MDMA may have significantly higher stress hormone cortisol levels than non-users.
Regular use of alcohol or drugs can lead to dependence, causing the brain to rely on these substances to function properly. Abrupt discontinuation of substance use can result in an adjustment period during which the brain struggles to produce adequate levels of serotonin, dopamine, and other essential chemicals.
This adjustment can cause feelings of sadness, numbness, or a loss of interest and pleasure, similar to symptoms of depression. Consequently, individuals may resort to substance use again to feel normal.
Excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs can negatively impact personal and professional life, leading to isolation. Isolation reduces access to emotional support, vital in managing and coping with mental health symptoms. Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of developing depression.
Depression symptoms vary among individuals but commonly include:
Symptoms of substance misuse also vary depending on the substance used and existing mental health conditions. Prolonged substance use can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and personal life, resulting in:
Individuals experiencing substance misuse meet one or more addiction criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These criteria include strong urges or cravings, withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation, unsuccessful attempts to control substance use, tolerance, and increased substance use over time.
To diagnose a substance use disorder (SUD), a licensed healthcare or mental health professional must assess an individual based on the criteria established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Individuals who meet 1-2 criteria are typically diagnosed with mild SUD. A diagnosis of moderate SUD has considered if the person meets 3-5 criteria, while meeting 6 or more criteria indicates a severe SUD.
To diagnose depression, mental health professionals or doctors rely on specific guidelines. For instance, a person needs to have experienced a depressive episode lasting longer than 2 weeks and exhibiting the following symptoms to be considered developing depression disorder.
If an individual presents symptoms of both SUD and depression, a doctor may concurrently diagnose them with both conditions. However, individuals may receive separate diagnoses for each condition in other cases.
Typically, mental health professionals take a comprehensive approach to addressing both substance use disorders (SUD) and depression simultaneously. Since symptoms of these conditions often intersect, their treatments also tend to overlap. Integrating certain medications and therapeutic interventions can effectively target SUD and depression, enhancing overall treatment outcomes.
To ensure optimal results, a personalized treatment plan should be developed by a doctor, considering the individual’s unique conditions and symptoms. The treatment options may include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly used form of talk therapy that helps individuals develop new coping strategies by challenging irrational thoughts and modifying behaviors.
Antidepressant medications aim to improve the brain’s processing of mood-controlling chemicals. Finding the most effective medication with minimal side effects may require some trial and error. In certain cases, combining multiple medications may be recommended for a limited period to enhance effectiveness. It is crucial to inform healthcare providers about co-occurring depression and addiction to devise an appropriate treatment plan that prioritizes sobriety.
Living with depression and substance use disorders can be challenging, and seeking support from organizations and support groups can be beneficial for individuals in managing these conditions. You can also opt for organizations offering programs like Outpatient Rehab (OP) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP).
These programs help individuals eliminate any harmful behavior they have developed due to peer pressure, genetics, or mental health illnesses. At California Prime Recovery, we ensure our patients get excellent support encouraging them to leave their harmful habits.
Understanding the relationship between depression and substance use disorders is crucial for effective treatment and support. Recognizing the symptoms and available treatments can help individuals seek appropriate help and find healthier ways to cope with their mental health challenges.
If you are looking for credible experts for help, California Prime Recovery is here to help you. Our fully equipped team of experts can tailor treatment programs based on patients’ needs and requirements. So, if you or your loved one is experiencing depression or SUD, contact us today at 866-208-2390
Whether you are diagnosed with a depressive disorder, or experience depression in intense moments of sadness, it can feel overwhelming, and as if you’re trapped in a rain cloud and can’t get out. In reality, you’re not as helpless as you may believe. Rather than reaching for a substance to numb and sedate your pain, or another to cheer yourself up, there are many other holistic ways that can naturally enhance your mood and make you feel better.
When you consider that most people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, you can recognize the importance of sleep for keeping the body recharged and energized.
If you are suffering from depression, take a look at your sleep routine. Are you going to bed at a decent time, and at a regular time each night? Do you feel refreshed and full of energy when you wake up, or drowsy and sleepy during the day? Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night? If you’re struggling to sleep through the night, maybe your first visit should be to a sleep specialist. Once you get your sleep patterns in line, you may notice a change in your mood as well.
Hydration is the most important element for your body, after sleep. Most Americans reach for soda, alcohol or other substances when they feel thirst, rather than water. In fact, dehydration is the culprit for many health issues including depression, headaches, lack of focus, and low energy. Chronic dehydration can lead to poor kidney functioning, digestive problems, heart problems, joint pains, high blood sugar, and a host of other issues.
If you are suffering from depression, check on your water intake. Consider starting your day with a glass of water before anything else. Drink a glass of water before each meal. Make sure you’re getting about 2 liters of water each day, or whatever is right for your body. Once you start increasing your water intake, you’ll start noticing an improvement in your body’s energy and mood levels.
When you’re depressed, exercise may be the last thing you want to get out of bed for. It is even harder in the winter months. However, those are the times it is most important to move your body. Studies have shown that exercise improves recovery from depression by 22%! When your body doesn’t get enough exercise, you don’t eat well, sleep well, your metabolism slows down, you get depressed and irritable, and you feel stressed easily.
If you are suffering from depression, you really should check whether you’re getting enough exercise. Start with simple activities, like yoga, or a brisk walk. When you’re ready, you can add more intensity with jumping jacks, or a longer run. Getting your heart pumping is a great way to elevate your mood and overcome depression.
Spending time out in nature is an instant energy booster. Exposure to sunshine is an important way to receive the vitamin D your body needs. Lack of vitamin D can lead to depressive moods, a debilitated immune system, weaker bones and a range of other issues.
If you are suffering from depression, ensure you’re stepping outside and getting some fresh air and sunshine, yes, even in winter months. You may even consider combining exercise and nature with activities such as hiking, kayaking, riding a bike, or whatever activity appeals to you.
There are many other ways to improve your depressive moods, but these 4 are great to start with. One way to ensure you are getting enough sleep, water, exercise and nature is to keep a simple mood tracking journal that includes the activities you want to add to your day and how your mood feels afterwards. And don’t neglect seeing a therapist! There may be other undiagnosed reasons why you are depressed, and a therapist can help you get better. California Prime Recovery has an excellent staff who is licensed and certified in mental health treatment, and our facilities are conducive for long term recovery. Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313