While many think of depression as just being sad for a day or two every now and then, it is actually much more than that. Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that can affect several areas of a person’s life, including how they act, think, and feel. While not everyone who suffers from depression has a substance abuse problem, the two so often occur together that they have been given a specific name by experts: dual diagnosis. According to research, nearly 25% of those who suffer from major depressive disorder also have a substance abuse disorder. Below, you’ll find an in-depth explanation of depression and substance abuse, as well as the ways in which depression can increase substance abuse.


What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that leaves the individual often feeling constant sadness or with a lack of interest in life. Depression symptoms need to last at least 2 weeks or longer in order for there to be a diagnosis.

There are also different forms of depression, including:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Psychotic depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder

In order to be diagnosed and treated for depression, it is imperative that you see a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. Treatments may include things, such as antidepressants, talk therapy, or even brain stimulation therapies.


What are the Symptoms of Depression?

There are many symptoms of depression, including:

  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, and/or worthlessness
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering details
  • Crankiness and/or easily irritable
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss in interest in things that were once pleasurable
  • Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts


What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse disorder is the repeated use of any substance, including drugs and alcohol. These substances may be legal, prescription drugs, or banned substances. Substance abuse occurs when the individual uses the substance in a way that it was not recommended to be used or when they are taking more than the prescribed dosage. Substance abuse can cause several issues for an individual, including sickness, loss of self-control, social problems, and ignoring their daily responsibilities.


Does Depression Increase the Risk for Substance Abuse?

Depression and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. In fact, nearly ⅓ of those suffering from depression also have a substance abuse disorder. This is because many individuals choose to try to cope with their depression on their own, rather than seeking help from a mental health professional. Many individuals will use drugs and/or alcohol as a way to self-medicate, escape their problems, or numb the pain. While this may provide temporary relief to their problems, these problems with depression are not only likely to continue, but they tend to get worse in the long run. As they continue to self-medicate with drugs, they may develop a substance abuse problem.

Genetic and neurological factors also play a role in depression and substance abuse. For individuals who have a high risk of depression, they also have a higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem.


Start Your Road to Recovery Today

Dual disorders, such as depression and substance abuse, can be very dangerous. If you or a loved one are experiencing these issues, you should seek help immediately. Our team at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center is here to help provide you with the resources needed to achieve long-term sobriety and to live a healthy and productive life.

If you still aren’t sure about how the recovery process works, no need to worry. Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Center, we understand how nerve-wracking or intimidating it can be to start your addiction recovery journey and our team of professionals is here to help! Our recovery centers offer several different recovery programs to choose from, including residential treatment, professionals program, medical detox, intensive outpatient treatment, relapse track, 3-day evaluation, and a family program. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, call our office today at 318-728-2970!