Dual Diagnosis - Depression and Anxiety

Is There a Connection Between Depression and Addiction?

Depression and addiction are connected, and often fuel each other. Dual diagnosis is treatable at The Forge Recovery Center.

Is There a Connection Between Depression and Addiction?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 28, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a category of mental health disorders involving addictions to substances like drugs or alcohol. Often, mental health disorders are co-morbid, meaning you are likely to develop more than one mental health condition if the original disorder goes untreated.

This combination of co-occurring mental disorders and substance use disorders is known as a dual diagnosis.

People who struggle with depression are more at risk of developing a dual diagnosis. Unfortunately, addiction can also be a cause of depression. After all, substance abuse will inevitably disrupt your life, and depression is a common side effect of prolonged drug and alcohol misuse.

If you are at risk of developing depression or already struggling with a depressive disorder, you need to avoid drugs and alcohol to ensure you do not become addicted.

What Is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is more than sadness. It is a chronic illness that leaves the afflicted person with persistent feelings of despair and suicidal ideation. If MDD is not treated, it can significantly impact the individual’s ability to go about their daily lives. In some cases, depression can end in the person taking their own life.

Symptoms of MDD include:

  • Persistent sadness or anger

  • Feelings of emptiness

  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities that used to bring joy

  • Chronic pain

  • Hopelessness

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Loss of appetite or changes in eating habits

  • Weight changes

Why Is Depression a Risk Factor for Addiction?

Researchers know depression to have genetic components. Depression is also often triggered due to stressful life events. It is not uncommon for people to develop depression after they have had a severe injury, lost a loved one or a job, or experienced another form of trauma.

When someone goes through these life events, they may be able to process them in a healthy way. Some things that can help people process and heal from trauma include a strong support system and healthy coping mechanisms. Often, professional mental health support is needed.

Unfortunately, those who do not have loving friends or family may not know how to ask for help. When feelings of depression are left untreated, they can grow into a depressive disorder that can wreak havoc on someone’s life.

People with depression often cannot sleep or maintain their daily routines. They frequently lose interest in the relationships and activities that used to bring them joy. Additionally, they may feel like they have the world’s weight on their shoulders at all times and may become suicidal. This unbearable weight and the general drain from living with depression can cause people to want to feel numb.

Too often, people with depression seek this numbness through drugs or alcohol. The use of substances to cope with depression is a dangerous form of self-medicating. This frequently results in people with depression developing SUD.

If I Have Depression, How Can I Prevent Addiction? 

The best way to prevent addiction if you are struggling with depression is to seek help from a licensed medical or mental health professional. Regardless of whether you start by visiting your primary care doctor or a therapist, you must get the help you need to better your mental health.

Therapy for depression is important even if you are not worried you could be at risk of developing SUD. The disease of depression can be deadly if it is not managed appropriately. Aside from the risk factors depression presents for suicide, depression can greatly disrupt your life.

People who do not seek treatment for their depression often struggle to find joy in life. They are frequently exhausted and disinterested in most daily tasks. Untreated depression symptoms will eventually start affecting your job performance and your ability to go to school, engage with friends, and take care of yourself.

Untreated depression will ultimately affect your relationships, finances, and overall mental and physical well-being. For these reasons alone, depression should be taken seriously and treated as quickly as possible, even if addiction is not an immediate concern.

In the meantime, you should avoid even moderate or occasional use of drugs or alcohol. Although not all substance use develops into addiction, you should take your higher risk of addiction seriously and find other ways of finding relaxation and temporary escape. Consider taking a bath, reading a book, or calling a friend instead of using a substance. 

I Am Worried I May Have an Addiction. What Should I Do Next?

If you have depression and have already started self-medicating, you may be worried that you have already developed a SUD. In this case, it is crucial to seek help from professionals immediately. You will likely receive a dual diagnosis if you have depression and SUD. The medical professional may recommend you to a treatment center.

Depending on the severity of your dual diagnosis, you will be advised to seek treatment at either an inpatient or outpatient facility.

The severity of your dual diagnosis will be determined through the consideration of multiple factors. A medical professional will weigh the seriousness of your depression, the time you have been abusing drugs or alcohol, the types of substances you are using, and the effects your addiction is having on your life.

You will likely be referred to an outpatient facility if you have a mild dual diagnosis. If your condition is more severe, an inpatient program may be better for you.

Even though the thought of getting treatment can be scary, it is important to remember that your mental health is a crucial component of your well-being. When you are mentally unwell, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain your physical health, your relationships, and your responsibilities at school or work. Taking the time to care for your mental health will enable you to accomplish your goals and enjoy your life again without being held back by depression or addiction.

The Forge Recovery Center Provides Expert Dual Diagnosis Care for Depression and Addiction

Depression is bad enough on its own. Combined with addiction, it’s even worse. Fortunately, both conditions are treatable. The Forge Recovery Center uses effective, evidence-based care to treat dual diagnosis. With our programs, we’ll get at the emotional and mental roots of addiction, healing you in both mind and body.

Why live with depression and addiction? Get your dual diagnosis treated today with The Forge Recovery Center.

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