Many people struggle in a cycle of depression and addiction that seems never-ending. In some cases, depression leads a person to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Conversely, people with an addiction often become depressed. The two disorders go hand-in-hand regardless of which came first.
Depression and addiction are linked in many ways because they both involve similar areas of the body. They affect the central nervous system by impacting the part of the brain that controls reward and motivation. This area of the brain, known as the nucleus accumbens, responds to both disorders in much the same way.
When someone suffers from depression and addiction, it is called dual-diagnosis. To successfully overcome addiction, the depression symptoms must be addressed. This is vital because the symptoms of substance abuse magnify the symptoms of depression. The reverse is also true. It is a cycle that requires professional intervention and treatment.
Symptoms of Depression
Everyone feels a little sad sometimes. Daily life brings a range of situations and unexpected events that some people can manage okay, while others never seem to recover completely. So, what is the difference between normal sadness and depression?
Here are some of the symptoms to watch for if you are concerned about whether you or a loved one may be depressed:
- Sadness that won’t go away
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling a sense of worthlessness
- Anxiety, irritability, unable to sleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Changes in appetite
- Headaches and other pains
- Suicidal ideations
When these symptoms persist and affect the way you live your life, you should seek professional treatment.
Symptoms of Addiction
If you use drugs or alcohol to help you cope with depression symptoms, addiction can happen before you realize it. Some substances, such as alcohol, are depressants, meaning they can lead to or worsen depression. Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and some sleep medications can also cause symptoms of depression.
These are some of the characteristics and signs of addiction you should be aware of:
- Can’t stop using the substance
- Progressively crave more of the substance
- Secretive behavior and social isolation
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss or gain
- Relationship problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in personal hygiene
- Inability to perform daily responsibilities
Some of the symptoms of depression and addiction overlap and fuel each other. Anyone struggling with this type of dual-diagnosis situation will need professional treatment.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is a complex disorder that is often difficult to diagnose. Also, some people are more susceptible to depression due to medical problems or genetic vulnerability. The onset of depression can be caused by many factors such as faulty mood regulation by the brain, medications, or stressful life events.
Researchers have identified genes that cause a vulnerability to low moods. Much more research is needed to fully understand the biology of depression. However, individuals struggling with depression have responded well to therapy and medication.
Trauma can also play a role in causing depression. Unexpected events such as the death of a loved one, job loss, sudden illness, or dysfunctional relationships can cause some people to feel depressed. Trauma can also be the result of childhood abuse, experiencing natural disasters, military duty, and witnessing or being the victim of crime.
What Causes Addiction?
People become addicted to drugs or alcohol for many reasons. They each have their own reasons for using addictive substances. Typically, addiction is a result of how chemicals in drugs or alcohol affect the brain and body.
The chemicals in drugs and alcohol cause a range of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is withheld. The symptoms are often uncomfortable and intense, causing the person to seek more of the drug. Over time, repeating this pattern leads to addiction.
But, addiction involves more than physical dependence. It is a combination of physical, mental, environmental, and social factors.
Studies show that about 60 percent of people with addictions meet the diagnostic criteria for mental illness. The study also reveals that about 43 percent of people in treatment for addiction also have symptoms of mental health disorders, specifically depression and anxiety.
Treatment for Depression and Addiction at Design for Change Recovery
At Design for Change Recovery, we understand the complexities of depression and addiction. So, we created a treatment protocol that addresses all contributing factors. With a customized approach to therapy, our clients overcome dual-diagnosis disorders and live productive and healthier lives.
Elements of our comprehensive program include detox, group and individual counseling, therapeutic activities, family therapy, psychoeducation, and more. Our goal is to help clients heal physically, mentally, and spiritually to ensure lasting recovery.
If you are feeling trapped by the symptoms of depression and addiction, contact Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA today. One of our addiction specialists will help you choose a treatment plan that is right for your needs.
- drugabuse.gov – Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness