Depression and Substance Use Disorders

What is Depression?

Depression cannot be defined, as there are various types of depression. However, depression is treatable. But, when combined with substances (drugs/alcohol), the condition can worsen. Depression is considered a mental health disorder that can profoundly impact one’s life—it will color how a person feels about everything and how one feels about oneself. The severity of the negative feeling can be debilitating.

Substance Use Disorders (SUD) can bring on depression, or it can worsen a pre-existing depressive state.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression can be mild or severe. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood (low)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Physical ailments such as thyroid problems, vitamin deficiency, or other serious medical conditions can mimic symptoms of depression. Without adding substance abuse to the picture, these are some of the more severe forms of depression:

  • “Major depression, which includes symptoms of depression most of the time for at least 2 weeks that typically interfere with one’s ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia), which often includes less severe symptoms of depression that last much longer, typically for at least 2 years.
  • Perinatal depression, which occurs when a woman experiences major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression).
  • Seasonal affective disorder, which comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in late fall and early winter and going away during spring and summer.
  • Depression with symptoms of psychosis, which is a severe form of depression where a person experiences psychosis symptoms, such as delusions (disturbing, false fixed beliefs) or hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that others do not see or hear).”

The group mentioned above does not include bipolar disorders. Loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a physical assault, or any other form of intimate loss can bring on feelings of sadness and grief. These are not the same as depression. Though, how one deals with the sense of loss can lead to a depressive episode.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the nation. Depression can affect 1 in 15 adults in any year. Women are more likely than men to experience depression, but that is not to say that men do not experience depression. Studies have shown that the pandemic has had a profound negative impact on people’s (men and women) mental health as well as the increase in the use of alcohol and drugs.

A person dealing with the overwhelming sense of helplessness or a feeling of being “other than” can often lead a person to self-medicate. When a person feels lost, hopeless, or has feelings of self-loathing, he/she/they may turn to illicit drugs or abuse drugs prescribed by a physician. The latest government National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that:

  • Among the 138.5 million people who were current alcohol users, 61.6 million were classified as binge drinkers and 17.7 million (28.8 percent of current binge drinkers and 12.8 percent of current alcohol users) were classified as heavy drinkers. 
  • More than 59.3 million people 12 or older used illicit drugs in the past year, including 49.6 million who used marijuana. 
  • In 2020, 4.2 million adolescents 12 to 17 received mental health services in a specialty setting in the past year. 
  • An estimated 41.4 million adults 18 or older in 2020 received inpatient or outpatient mental health services or took prescription medication for a mental health issue in the past year. 

Correlation Between Depression and Substance Abuse

Both conditions involve the same brain chemistry and pathways. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is made in the brain. It is a chemical messenger between nerve cells, the brain, the brain, and the rest of the body. One of the functions of dopamine is the sensation of pleasure, though it performs many other functions. Addiction is one of the diseases associated with high levels of dopamine. Regular SUD creates changes in the brain that impact the brain’s ability to communicate clearly with the cells and organs in the body. It affects the body’s ability to make appropriate choices.

People who self-medicate and take substances to manage their depression are only worsening their mental health condition because of the changes in the brain and because the cause of the depression remains untreated.

Because drugs change the chemistry of the brain, the pathways of communication, and the ability to function, drugs can create mental health conditions such as depression.

For example, in a recent study, college students who use amphetamine stimulants also suffered from depression, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and nicotine cravings. What many people who use alcohol and drugs do not understand is that many of these drugs: alcohol, marijuana, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioids, Zoloft, Celexa Wellbutrin, Xanax, Klonipin, Ativan, Valium, Ambien, Prilosec, Nexium some hormone replacement drugs and many others have a side effect of depression or are depressants.

“People with SUDs are more likely than those without SUDs to have co-occurring mental disorders. Addiction counselors encounter clients with CODs [people with co-occurring disorders and SUDs] as a rule, not an exception. Mental disorders likely to co-occur with addiction include depressive disorders, bipolar I disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders (PDs), anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, ADHD, and eating and feeding disorders.”

Treatment and Mental Health Services

Best practices for treating SUDs must also include mental health evaluations and education. A licensed treatment facility with a team of addiction experts (physicians, nurses, clinicians, etc.) is needed to continually evaluate and modify a treatment plan for someone suffering from depression and SUD. Indeed, the cause of a client’s depression requires identification: is it a pre-existing condition, or is it a response to the drugs that have changed the brain? Without treating both conditions, it is more than likely a person will relapse and return to substance use.

If you or a loved one is suffering from SUD and depression, call now to speak with a trained staff member who can answer your questions and help you arrange for the appropriate treatment.

References:

Connor Barton
Connor Barton
2022-06-03
Verified
The staff here is amazing. Caring and attentive. I finally kicked the sticks and couldn’t be happier.
Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
2022-06-03
Verified
So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
2022-05-20
Verified
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
2022-05-04
Verified
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
2022-05-04
Verified
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
2022-03-21
Verified
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
2022-03-07
Verified
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
2022-02-26
Verified
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
2022-01-29
Verified
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

No products in the cart.