Addiction and Depression: How They Can be Connected

With the world and our lives constantly changing it’s not uncommon to feel some level of depression and/or burnout. While most people will experience highs and lows throughout their life, clinical depression is different. Clinical depression lasts for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. It interferes with a person’s ability to maintain their everyday life, and their ability to work and maintain a healthy and balanced life. Unfortunately, that’s why addiction and depression go hand in hand. Depression is common among people battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse has the power and ability to trigger and or intensify the feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness often associated with depression.

For many people who deal with depression, drugs and alcohol can deceptively present themselves as an easy solution to your problems. While these substances may seem to temporarily numb emotional pain they can also lead down a path of addiction, quickly. The more one consumes alcohol or drugs, the more your body becomes dependent not only on the substance but on its effects.  This can also lead to worsening depression. 

In order to fully understand depression and addiction you have to first understand some of the overlapping signs that both disorders are present. These signs include: 

  • Refusing to acknowledge a problem
  • Experiencing issues with personal relationships
  • Isolating from other people

Signs That Someone Is Dealing With Addiction and Depression

Here are a few questions you can ask to better understand why someone may be self-medicating with alcohol or drugs: 

  • Do you use drugs or alcohol to change the way you feel about something?
  • Do you use substances more than recommended?
  • Do you feel like it takes more substances for you to achieve the same feeling?
  • Do you crave drugs or alcohol? 
  • Do alcohol or drugs interfere with your professional or social life? 
  • Do you engage in risky behaviors?
  • Do you spend a lot of time and/or money procuring substances?

Asking and answering these questions may not solve the addiction or depression but can help lead down a path of greater understanding. That understanding can help you better educate those around you about why addiction and depression coincide and/or can help you get the necessary support.

Can Addiction Make Depression Worse?

The short answer is yes. Like other substances, drugs and alcohol can foster symptoms of depression. Because many people suffering from depression have histories of abuse and trauma, stimulants can cause an increased craving for substances. Stimulants like cocaine and MDMA may induce short-term feelings of joy or numbness but can lead to an even more depressed state once the high fades. This can lead to a person using more stimulants to achieve the same effects, creating a cycle of addiction. The stimulants most commonly abused by individuals with depression are: 

  • MDMA
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription stimulants like Adderall 
  • Methamphetamines 
  • Synthetic stimulants including bath salts 

Approaching these problems can be difficult but the sooner you begin to work towards identifying and treatment, the better chance you have of avoiding chronic conditions later in life. Depression and addiction can get better with intervention. If you fear that your loved one is struggling with addiction and depression, have your loved one seek treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. TROSA can help individuals with addiction and depression. Learn more about our services today.