September 5th, 2023
Depression and addiction
Navigating the world of mental health is tough, especially when dealing with depression and addiction. Depression ranks among the top global causes of disability, wreaking havoc on sufferers. When combined with addiction, the results can be devastating.
Although we have a strong knowledge of addiction and depression individually, when combined, the situation becomes more complex with many more variables than when dealing with just one disorder alone.
Due to these complexities, we have compiled information to help you understand addiction and depression when they co-occur. We’ll pinpoint signs, unravel which disorder might have come first and provide guidance on seeking the help you may need.
The symptoms of addiction and depression
Determining the symptoms of co-occurring depression and addiction can pose challenges, particularly when addiction involves substances.
For instance, certain drug abuse signs can closely resemble symptoms of depression. Research highlights that substances affecting the central nervous system, like cocaine and amphetamines, might induce depressive symptoms during withdrawal or prolonged use.
Because of this, it remains unclear exactly what the symptoms of addiction and depression are. It can be safe to say that the two have an ongoing interaction and can exacerbate each other.
With this in mind, here are the symptoms of depression and addiction, respectively:
- Persistent sadness
- Loss of interest
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms
- Suicidal thoughts
- Loss of control
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Failed attempts to quit
- Continued use despite consequences
- Loss of interest
- Mood changes
If you feel as though you are showing signs of addiction, depression or both, it’s imperative that you reach out for professional help as soon as possible. With complex disorders, such as depression and addiction, it can be extremely difficult to deal with on your own. By getting the help needed, you can start your journey to recovery as soon as possible.
Shocking addiction and depression statistics
- According to research, depressive disorders are most common in people suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
- Strong evidence points to the fact that depression may lead to heavier cannabis use.
- Studies have shown that extended opioid use contributes to developing depression, whereas other studies report the opposite.
- 40-47% of homeless men meet the criteria for mild to severe depression, with a separate study stating that 41-44% of homeless individuals reported drug or alcohol addictions.
- In a 2022 study that focused on internet addiction and depression, the participants who were addicted to the Internet showed a significant prevalence of depression (85.7%) and anxiety (83.3%).
- A 2018 study found that depressive symptoms were reported by 69.57% of participants who had a diagnosed gambling addiction.
What came first- the depression or the addiction?
Though the above statistics might appear disconnected at first glance, they highlight the frequent occurrence of depression among people dealing with various forms of addiction. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, or internet addiction, the data clearly demonstrates the association between depression and a range of addictive behaviours. So why is this?
The relationship between depression and addiction is complex and can vary from person to person. It’s not always easy to determine a clear sequence of events because these two conditions can often feed into each other, creating a cycle that is difficult to break. Below, we take a closer look at each scenario:
Depression leading to addiction…
Emotional relief: People with untreated or undertreated depression may seek relief from their emotional pain. They might find that using substances or participating in certain behaviours temporarily alleviates their depressive symptoms and provides a sense of escape or relief.
Self-medication: Over time, some may continue to use substances as a way to cope with their ongoing depression. This can lead to a pattern of self-medication, where they rely on substances to regulate their mood and emotions.
Changes in brain chemistry: Depression is associated with imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a crucial role in regulating mood. Substance use can further disrupt these neurotransmitter systems, creating a cycle where some use substances to feel better temporarily but ultimately worsen their brain’s ability to regulate mood naturally.
Tolerance and dependence: Continued substance use can lead to tolerance, where higher amounts of the substance are needed to achieve the same effects. This can progress to dependence, where the person feels compelled to use the substance to avoid withdrawal symptoms and maintain a semblance of emotional stability.
Addiction leading to depression…
Escalating substance use: Just like drugs can upset the chemical balance in people who already have depression, those addicted to substances can experience similar effects. The repeated activation of the brain’s reward pathway by substances can reduce the ability to feel pleasure from natural rewards. This is known as anhedonia, a common trait of depression.
Negative consequences: As addiction takes hold, some may begin to experience a range of negative consequences, such as;
- Strained relationships
- Financial problems
- Legal issues
- Physical health complications
These outcomes can lead to emotions like guilt, shame and hopelessness, which are linked to depressive symptoms.
Withdrawal and cravings: As addiction deepens, some may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to reduce or stop their substance use. These withdrawal symptoms can include feelings of depression and anxiety, further exacerbating their emotional state.
How is depression and addiction disorder treated?
Oasis Runcorn specialises primarily in addiction rehab treatment, meaning our services do not cater specifically to depression. However, if you’re facing a dual diagnosis of depression and addiction, the therapeutic approaches within our treatment programme can bring substantial advantages.
We offer the following rehab therapies:
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): This therapeutic approach melds aspects of CBT with mindfulness methods. It equips you with skills to regulate emotions and enhance interpersonal relationships. DBT aids in managing depression, handling cravings and curbing impulsive behaviours linked with addiction.
- Group therapy: Blending expert guidance with peer support, group therapy creates a potent healing environment for those confronting both depression and addiction. It promotes a nurturing space and diminishes the sense of isolation often associated with depression and addiction.
- Individual therapy: When tailored for those with a dual diagnosis of depression and addiction, individual therapy simultaneously addresses depression and addiction.
For those dealing with depression and addiction, holistic therapies offer invaluable support. These comprehensive approaches consider your mental and physical well-being, so we’ve incorporated holistic therapies into our treatment process.
Engaging in Oasis Runcorn’s holistic therapies equips you with indispensable tools and coping strategies to effectively manage your depression and progress towards addiction recovery.
The holistic therapies provided by Oasis Runcorn include:
What are the next steps?
If you or someone you know are currently struggling with depression and an addiction, it’s vital to seek help as soon as possible. With these co-occurring issues, managing them solely on your own can be extremely difficult. By reaching out for help with your issues, you’re enabling yourself to have the best possible start on your road to depression and addiction recovery. Reach out to Oasis Runcorn today and regain your life.