Depression and Substance Abuse


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Our goal is to provide you with effective dual diagnosis treatment for long-term abstinence.

Depression is a mental health disorder known to cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness which can interfere with daily life. Unfortunately, it is also often linked to addiction. According to a study by Kessler et al. published in 1994, compared with individuals with no mood disorders, those with depression were approximately twice as likely to have a substance use disorder. This is why, if you are struggling with a dual diagnosis of depression and an SUD, please contact us. We have experts in DD therapy who can assist you in simultaneously managing both disorders.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. At CATCH Recovery London, our addiction counsellors work together with patients to find the right treatment programme to suit their needs. The correct programme can also help you manage your dual diagnosis and increase your chances of long-term success. long-term success.

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Types of Depressive Disorders

There are several different types of depressive disorders, each with its own set of symptoms and treatment options.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a mental health condition that can be debilitating and can impact every aspect of your life, including relationships, work, and self-care. The symptoms of MDD can include overwhelming feelings of sadness, a lack of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite or weight.

We offer a variety of therapeutic options such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). With a combined programme of individual and group therapy sessions, we can help you learn new coping skills and ways to manage your symptoms.

Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

Antenatal and postnatal depression are common but serious conditions that affect many mothers in the United Kingdom. While they are dangerous conditions alone, if you are suffering from a dual diagnosis alongside an addiction, both disorders can be worsened.

These clinical depression types occur during or after childbirth and can last for years if ignored. The condition can cause a range of symptoms that can be debilitating and long-lasting:

  • feelings of sadness

  • hopelessness

  • irritability

  • anxiety

  • fatigue

  • insomnia

If left untreated, it can have serious consequences for both the mother and her baby, including impaired bonding, difficulty breastfeeding, and an increased risk of long-term mental health problems for both mother and child. The substance one is addicted to can also affect the embryo and the child before and after birth, and can even lead to withdrawal symptoms for the baby, which is a life-threatening condition and has to be managed impatiently.


Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, can be incredibly challenging to manage. The persistent feelings of sadness or low mood that last for at least two years can be devastating and often cause people to seek self-medication options including illegally purchased medications.

Working with a therapist can help you better understand your condition and develop strategies for managing your symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

In addition to dual diagnosis, it’s essential to discuss other mental health conditions that can often be comorbid with depression and addiction, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and decreased motivation. Many people with SAD turn to substances or addictive behaviours such as gambling or shopping to cope with these symptoms.

You can trust our therapists to help you address both mental health conditions and substance use disorders. This plan may include talk therapy, holistic therapies, and behavioural therapy.

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is a subtype of major depression that may cause atypical symptoms such as weight gain, oversleeping, and heaviness in the limbs. You may also experience a heightened sensitivity to rejection and interpersonal relationships.

Atypical depression can make it difficult to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness. It’s a courageous step towards living a happier, healthier life.

Depression & Substance Abuse

Have you tried self-medicating your diagnosed or undiagnosed depression with substances? Cannabis, prescription drugs and especially alcohol are some of the substances that are often abused for such a purpose. But, as addiction specialists, we know substance misuse is not going to help in the long term.
We’re here to help you understand how these substances can interact with depression and suggest you a better method to heal without as many negative side effects and harm.

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Connection Between Alcoholism & Major Depression

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can slow down brain activity and affect your mood. While it might provide temporary relief or a sense of relaxation, excessive and prolonged alcohol use can actually intensify depressive symptoms. It can disrupt your sleep patterns, interfere with the effectiveness of antidepressant medication, and worsen the overall imbalance of chemicals in your brain that contribute to depression.

Prescription Drugs and Depressive Conditions

Let’s talk about prescription drug abuse. Certain medications can indeed have a significant impact on your mood, especially when misused or taken without proper guidance from a healthcare professional. For instance, some prescription medications, like benzodiazepines or opioids, can induce feelings of relaxation or euphoria. However, these effects are temporary and can exacerbate underlying depressive symptoms. Moreover, misusing these drugs can lead to addiction and withdrawal, further compounding your mental health challenges.

Abusing Cannabis while Suffering from Depression Disorders

In the US, a study reviewed the connection between Cannabis use and depression in young adults. Here is what they found:

  • Young adults who are going through withdrawal may be inclined to self-treat their pain.

  • Individuals residing in regions where cannabis is legal, exhibited lower tendencies to self-treat anxiety and depression.

  • Residing in a location where cannabis is prohibited was found to be a significant predictor of self-medicating for social discomfort.

  • Female participants had a higher tendency to self-medicate for anxiety.

The research results have practical applications in comprehending the correlation between cannabis use and psychological and physical discomfort among young adults, as well as in providing appropriate treatment for those with cannabis use disorder.

Common Symptoms of Depression

There are many ways in which depressive conditions affect us, from the mild to the more severe cases, the symptoms and signs vary. Here are some feelings which you may observe in yourself or a loved one if depression is settling in:

  • Felling down, upset or tearful
  • Restlessness, agitation or irritation
  • A feeling of guilt, worthlessness and looking down on yourself
  • Feeling empty and numb
  • Becoming isolated and unable to relate to other people
  • Finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
  • Being angry or frustrated over minor things
  • A sense of unreality
  • No self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Hopelessness and despair
  • Feeling tired all the time

The constant feeling of being tired is usually a sign of depression unless chemical imbalances within the physiology are discovered to cause such an effect. In addition to this, keep in mind that most of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions including genetic, autoimmune and chronic. Consult with a counsellor if you are in doubt.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Diagnosing co-occurring disorders such as substance use disorder (SUD) and depression typically involves a comprehensive assessment conducted by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or addiction specialist.

Here’s an overview of the diagnostic process:

Initial Evaluation

A free screening or one of our paid options.

Assessment of Substance Use Disorder

Questionnaires and a discussion with our specialists.

Assessment of Depression

Review of your history and current treatments.

Differential Diagnosis

Assessment of differential treatment needs for both the mental health condition component and the substance use disorder component.

Dual Diagnosis Determination

We will conclude our findings and compile a counselling programme for you.

Our team of experts, trained in helping you heal from depression SUD, are here to help you whether you already have a confirmed diagnosis or are wondering if you may be suffering from the combined effects of these two conditions. Please note that, if you need a diagnosis, we may be able to refer you to a medical professional who can review your medical history and help you by providing a clinical diagnosis.

Honesty Is Essential

When you openly share your experiences, struggles, and emotions, it allows the therapist to gain a comprehensive understanding of your unique situation. This transparency helps our therapists accurately assess the severity and impact of both your substance use disorder and depressive disorder, enabling them to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.

Honesty creates a foundation of trust between you and the therapist. When you are truthful, you create a safe space where the therapist can provide you with the best possible support and guidance. This collaborative approach is vital in addressing the interconnected nature of substance use and depression.

Even more, honesty helps prevent potential risks or complications during treatment. If our therapist is unaware of the true extent of your substance use, they may unknowingly recommend therapies or treatments that can interact negatively with the substances you are using or abusing. Being forthcoming about your substance use allows us to make informed decisions about your treatment, ensuring your safety and optimising the effectiveness of interventions.


By combining the principles of the 12 steps, which emphasise self-reflection, personal responsibility, and spiritual growth, with evidence-based therapeutic techniques, our method provides a framework for self-discovery, healing, and recovery. It encourages acknowledgement of the impact of how your substance use affects your mental health. Additionally, we use a combination of therapies which help you develop coping skills, build a support network and engage in self-care practices to manage depression and achieve long-term sobriety.

Underlying Genetic Factors

As a service offering addiction counselling and therapy, we acknowledge the potential role of underlying genetic factors when working with clients with a dual diagnosis of substance use disorder (SUD) and depression.

While our therapists cannot diagnose or prescribe medications, we can recognise the impact that genetic factors may have on the development and progression of these conditions. By understanding the potential genetic vulnerabilities that may affect your health, we can approach treatment with greater sensitivity and adapt our therapeutic strategies accordingly.

This recognition also helps to destigmatise the conditions by highlighting that they are not solely a result of personal weakness or character flaws, but rather complex interactions between genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

By working through the effects of these underlying genetic factors, we can provide a more comprehensive and compassionate approach to therapy, focusing on developing effective coping skills, fostering resilience, and promoting overall well-being.

senior woman psychologist and sad man patient

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Dual Diagnosis

As addiction counsellors, our main concern when someone visits us for dual diagnosis therapy is to address both the substance use disorder (SUD) and the co-occurring mental health condition. Our counsellors aim to create an integrated treatment approach that recognises the interconnectedness of these conditions and their impact on your overall well-being. We strive to provide a safe and non-judgmental space where you feel supported and empowered to address both the addictive behaviours and the underlying emotional challenges, working towards long-term recovery and improved mental health.

Specialised therapies from our programme that can help your dual diagnosis include

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviours, helping individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms and addressing the underlying issues contributing to the dual diagnosis.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI is a client-centred approach that aims to increase motivation and commitment to change, exploring ambivalence and helping individuals find intrinsic motivation to overcome substance use and improve their mental health.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT incorporates mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills to manage emotions, improve coping strategies, and promote overall well-being.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing)

A technique that helps individuals process and resolve distressing memories and experiences by using bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to facilitate adaptive information processing.

These specialised therapies, along with individual and group counselling, support groups, and ongoing aftercare, form a comprehensive treatment approach to address the complex nature of dual diagnosis and facilitate lasting recovery.

How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Affect Treatment?

Co-occurring disorders, such as depression and substance use disorder (SUD), can have a profound impact on treatment. Depression may contribute to substance abuse as people often seek relief from emotional pain through substance use. Conversely, substance abuse can worsen depressive symptoms. Treatment for co-occurring depression and SUD involves addressing the underlying factors and providing integrated interventions. For instance, therapy may focus on developing coping skills for both depression and addiction, identifying triggers, and exploring the relationship between the two. Medications and support groups can also be utilised to manage symptoms and provide a comprehensive approach to recovery.

dual diagnosis

Finding the Right Addiction Counsellor for Co-Occurring Depression and Substance Use Disorder

If you’re looking for a certified, dual diagnosis expert in addiction counselling and therapy for depression? We at CATCH Recovery London offer a variety of services, including one-on-one counselling sessions, group therapy programmes, and aftercare support. We work with counsellors who are experienced in treating co-occurring depression and SUD, so you can trust that you’ll be in safe hands.

When you are struggling with both depression and substance use disorder (SUD), finding the right addiction counsellor is essential to ensure a successful recovery outcome. It may take some time to find the right practitioner when you look at all the possibilities out there. This is why our service is preferred by many: we will connect you to a specialist in dual diagnosis who is experienced in helping people who, like you, are suffering through a simultaneous depressive disorder and a SUD.

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