Understanding Depression and Addiction: Learn Your Treatment Options

Depression is most common amongst people who are battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse may trigger or intensify feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and sadness, which is often associated with depression. It is estimated that 1/3 of people with significant depression will also have a drug or alcohol addiction. For those who are suffering from depression, those low emotional periods will not go away quickly. Clinical depression is a very severe mental disability that has severe consequences for individuals suffering from it.

Depression affects many millions of people and keeps them from living healthy, happy lifestyles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that an estimated 10% of Americans suffer from a psychiatric disorder.

While most individuals who experience highs and low depression symptoms throughout their life, clinical depression will last weeks, months, and sometimes even years. It will interfere with an individual’s entire life, including their ability to work and also to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Individuals who are struggling with depression find themselves turning to drugs and alcohol as a solution to their problems. Those substances will temporarily subside the emotional pain, but they can also become addictive. The more drugs or alcohol you consume, the more dependent your body will grow on the effects they have. Over time, drug and alcohol addiction will accelerate the symptoms of depression and which can lead to health problems like brain damage.

Dual Diagnosis: Depression and Addiction

Substance abuse is widespread amongst individuals who are battling a depressive disorder. With alcohol being a central nervous system depressant, using alcohol will trigger depression symptoms like sadness, lethargy, and hopelessness.

Regardless, many individuals suffering from depression will reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to uplift spirits or numb painful thoughts. As a result, depression and substance abuse will feed into each other, and it will heighten the condition of both making each of them worse.

When an individual is suffering from both depression and addiction, this is called a Dual Diagnosis. A Dual Diagnosis can be made by any combination of a mental disorder and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. A Dual Diagnosis that includes depressive disorders is amongst the more common forms of the problem. It has been reported that one and three adults struggling with alcohol or drug abuse also suffer from depression.

Clinical depression will pose a higher risk of accidental injury, self-harm, and possibly suicide. Depression also suppresses the immune system, which weakens the body, making you more susceptible to physical ailments and illnesses. When you add drugs or alcohol to the mix, the risks increase tremendously to your physical and emotional health.

Enrollment into a specialized treatment program will help you avoid the significant effects of depression and addiction and can help you create a healthy and sober lifestyle that you deserve.

Understanding Depression

Individuals struggling with depression find themselves facing an uphill battle every day. There are many elements of depression that will overlap the signs of addiction, which will make it essential that people get the appropriate care and treatment for both disorders.

Individuals with both depression and addiction may show a lack of lifestyle habits that include:

  • Blowing off social activities or hobbies
  • Refusing or denying any acknowledgment of an addiction problem
  • Experiencing negative issues with personal relationships
  • Isolating themselves from the world and other people

For the individual suffering from depression, it is extremely tempting to want to consistently have the feelings that come with taking drugs or alcohol. In the long-term, though, substance abuse to ease depression symptoms will cause even more harm to the individual’s life.

Most Common Types of Depression

Here are four are the most common types of depression

Major Depression

  • One of the most common depression types is significant depression, which affects roughly seven percent of the population of the nation.
  • The symptoms for major depression will include lack of energy, irritability, extreme sadness, and changes in sleep patterns that may last more than two weeks at a time.
  • When major depression is left untreated, this can keep recurring throughout the individual’s life until they get the proper diagnosis and treatment needed.


  • Dysthymia is a milder form of depression in which individuals suffer from a continuous “gloomy mood,”‘ which can last for a year or two.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse will mask the negative emotions of this team and oppression in the short term. Still, it may drastically disrupt the individual’s relationships, work, and other daily activities long-term.
  • With Dysthymia being a chronic condition, it could eventually lead to significant depression down the road.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition of depression that is associated with variations of light and usually occurs heavily in the wintertime.
  • Individuals with this type of depression will experience mood changes, or reading, anxiety, and sleep problems.
  • To diagnose SAD, The individual must exhibit those symptoms over three consecutive winter seasons.

Atypical Depression

  • Atypical depression is when the individual will experience symptoms of depression, but their mood can be quickly uplifted with the news of any positive events or lifestyle change.
  • However, depression can become so severe that the individuals will feel as if life is not worth living during the low periods.
  • Using alcohol or other drugs that are addictive to self medicate it’s a pull depression will result in detrimental emotional and behavioral problems long-term.

Depression comes in many different ways and can happen to anyone at any age at any time.

Depression Symptoms

The symptoms of depression will vary depending on which type. A co-occurring disorder involving alcohol and addiction to other substances can increase the severity of those symptoms.

Individuals who suffer from depression will have approximately a ten percent lifetime suicide risk. When depression is combined with substance abuse, the suicide risk will rise to about twenty-five percent.

Common Symptoms of Depression

  • Loss of interest in work, school, hobbies, and personal goals
  • Feelings of uselessness and hopelessness
  • Irritable
  • Sleeping problems
  • Appetite and weight changes

Most individuals who face depression Will experience one or more of these common symptoms at some point in their life. However, individuals with severe types of depression, the symptoms can be dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening.

Symptoms of Severe Depression

  • Reckless behavior
  • Delusional or hallucinating
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Using drugs and alcohol to cope with depression

If you find that you or a loved one may have some of these signs and symptoms of depression, it is vital to get the help you need by contacting a mental health professional.

Depression Becoming Gateway to Addiction

Depression is very often referred to as a gateway to drug and alcohol use, which becomes an addiction. Individuals who experience feelings of depression will use alcohol and drugs to escape negative emotions. The counter effect is those who are clinically depressed will stay depressed if they do not seek professional treatment. If the individual is using drugs and alcohol regularly, the chances are that their usage will turn into full-blown addiction as they continue to self medicate to get past the depression effects.

Warning signs of addiction will include:

  • Tolerance: When your body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug and will require more significant amounts to achieve the same impact as at the beginning.
  • Withdrawal: When you reduce your intake of the drug and start showing symptoms of being nervous, nauseous, cold sweats, become agitated, or experiencing tremors.
  • Remorse: Leaving you feeling guilty or sad after you abuse the drug, even though you’re using to feel better in the first place.
  • Relapse: The urge to use will occur when you stop using the drug, recreating your cravings and withdrawal symptoms, driving you back to the drug habit again.

For the individuals who have depression and substance use disorder, to go cold turkey from drugs and alcohol may make the depression worse. Individuals using alcohol for years to bury the depressive symptoms may find that the depression will rise to the surface during sobriety. This is why it is vital to receive integrated treatment for both depression and substance abuse simultaneously. This is known as treating a dual diagnosis.

To only treat the depression, or the addiction will have you likely going back to your addictive behaviors. Or you will end up feeling depressed symptoms again as soon as you finish rehab. In most cases, individuals with depression and addiction will drop out of rehab programs. This is because the sobriety is too hard to handle without the right level of therapeutic support.

Diagnosing Depression

There are several different ways that doctors can diagnose depression. A few tests can be completed to pinpoint the exact type of depression and to determine the proper treatment will include:

  • Physical Exam: A doctor completing a physical review to see if any underlying health conditions are linked to the patient’s depression. This exam will consist of a range of physical tests for them to get a better understanding of the individual’s overall health.
  • Lab Tests: A blood test will illuminate a variety of underlying health conditions that contribute to symptoms of depression. For example, a complete blood count or thyroid test ensures different parts of the body are still functioning correctly.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A doctor will have their patients complete a questionnaire to learn about their symptoms, thoughts, and feelings. The information provided through the assessment will help the doctors form a proper diagnosis and which will aid in determining the appropriate treatment for the individual.
  • DSM-5: Mental health professionals will continuously use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The information listed in the manual will help doctors diagnose mental conditions and is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for the treatments that are associated with a disease.

Recovering From Depression and Addiction

A Dual Diagnosis is complicated to treat because each disorder can intensify the symptoms of the other. Individuals who drink excessive amounts of alcohol will not cure their effects of depression. Drinking actually makes the conditions more serious. Individuals who recognize that they’re addicted to alcohol still cannot quit because of their depression. The need to suppress depression overcomes the alcohol’s adverse side effects.

To treat a patient with dual-diagnosis, there is a high level of complexity involved. It is well known the individuals who have a Dual Diagnosis won’t get the care they need in a traditional rehab facilitation program.

The only program that will work is the one equipped to handle the psychiatric issues, as well as the drug and alcohol addiction, and assists with the detox process, counseling afterward, and aftercare planning.

An integrated Dual Diagnosis program will incorporate counseling, peer support, education, and relapse prevention for depression and substance abuse issues.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that treatment plans will include these goals:

  • Assist the patient in understanding the nature of depression
  • Teaching the patient that recovery from depression and addiction can be possible
  • Motivating the patient to make significant changes in their life
  • Giving the patient practical skills for handling any negative thoughts
  • Helping the patient identify and change their addictive behavioral patterns

Medication therapy is a core component of the recovery process for any dual diagnosing patients who have been diagnosed with depression. Antidepressant drugs help the individual struggling with this disorder to cope with her symptoms and to go back to living a stable kind of fulfilling life.

Finding the correct medications will take time and patience. Still, treatment centers with qualified professionals in dual diagnosis treatment will be able to correlate the proper combination of medications and which will add valuable support.

Motivation, encouragement, and support are the essential tools to battle against depression and addiction. Depression drains your energy, so individual counseling, peer group support, and family counseling will be the key to giving you the strength that you need to continue your journey through recovery despite any challenges that come about.

Depression and Addiction Treatment Centers

Many factors play a role in deciding on a treatment plan for depression. Similar to other mental health conditions, depression is manageable to the point where individuals can live a healthy lifestyle beyond treatment. The options for treating depression will range from medications and psychotherapy to brain intervention therapies.

Depression Medications

Antidepressants function in a way that improves the brain, processing the various chemicals in which controls an individual’s mood. It may take some time and different combinations of medications to find the correct one that will work best for an individual’s depression symptoms. The doctor might recommend combining two medications like stabilizers for a short time to increase the effectiveness.

Medication is a handy tool for helping individuals with depression. Some of the more commonly prescribed antidepressants are:

  • Atypical Antidepressants
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Just like any other prescription medication, antidepressants are incredibly addictive. The individual suffering from depression and addiction must inform their doctor. Individuals can find the right treatment plan through a medical professional, which may even include avoiding any pharmaceutical medications. The goal is to get back to a healthy and happy lifestyle that is free from addiction and depression.

Help for Depression and Addiction Dual Diagnosis

Individuals that don’t have the proper treatment for a dual diagnosis like depression and addiction will find their conditions continuing to recur and impacting their quality of life. It is essential to get the help that you deserve by finding a specialized treatment center to help you overcome depression and addiction today.

Our team of professional medical professionals and addiction specialists at North Jersey Recovery Center understand the complicated nature of Dual Diagnosis. Every day, our team of addiction specialists deals with individuals struggling from depression and addiction at our facilities. Upon registry, we immediately start the process to help lead them to the road to recovery.

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we will offer a variety of programs that are designed to help our patients achieve lifelong sobriety while simultaneously treating all co-occurring disorders. Contact us today to discuss which program will work best for you!