The Link Between Depression and Addiction
Contrary to certain beliefs, depression is a clinical disorder and is not as simple as shaking off sadness; sadness is much less severe and more fleeting than depression. Depression and addiction make for a destructive cycle that can make it difficult to ask for help. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression and addiction, it is important to speak to trained professionals who can better assess your individual situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendations.
What Is Depression?
Depression is clinically defined as a serious mental health or mood disorder that can deteriorate over time without proper treatment. Despite popular belief and stigma, depression is so much more than simply being sad all the time. This disorder can be brought on by a series of events or circumstances such as environment, genetics, family history and overall psychological state, to name a few. People experience depression in different ways and in varying degrees. Depression can negatively impact your work and school life, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.
Symptoms of Depression
People who suffer from depression may experience difficulties in their ability to function properly in day-to-day life. Depression comes with many symptoms, some of which can affect your mood, and others can affect your body. Symptoms may come and go.
The DSM-5, the Diagnostic Statistics Manual, outlines the following symptoms when it comes to diagnosing depression:
- Low moods for most of the day or the entire day
- No interest in any activity most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight changes
- Decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Reduced physical movement
- Slowed down thoughts
- Fatigue and loss of energy most of the day
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inappropriate, if not excessive, feelings of guilt
- Diminished ability to concentrate and think and make decisions, nearly every day
- Suicidal ideation, plans, and/or attempts
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Symptoms of Addiction
Addiction refers to the compulsive need to engage in problematic behaviours such as substance abuse, despite serious interpersonal, financial, or medical consequences.
Someone suffering from an addiction may display some of the following signs, depending on their substance or behaviour of choice:
- Having a desire to stop or reduce use but being unable to do so
- Spending excessive time and energy attempting to obtain the substance, consume it, and recover after taking it
- Intense cravings and a strong desire to use certain substances
- Being unable to stop using despite adverse consequences, such as work, school, or family problems
- Issues with relationships due to substance abuse
- Lying, stealing and engaging in risky behaviours to obtain the substance
- Being secretive about using and going out of your way to use
- Finding yourself in dangerous situations as a result of your substance abuse (e.g., drinking and driving)
- Developing a physical tolerance (needing more to achieve the desired effect)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when abstaining from the substance
What Causes Depression?
The causes of depression can range from biological to circumstantial.
Common causes include, but are not limited to:
- Family history
- Early childhood trauma
- Brain structure and development
- Medical conditions such as insomnia, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Drug and alcohol use
- Low self-esteem
- Being self-critical
- Personal history of mental illness
- Certain medications
- Distressing events, for example, the loss of a loved one, financial stress, moving house or country, divorce
How Are Depression & Addiction Connected?
When depression and addiction often go hand in hand, with one usually intensifying the symptoms of the other. Unfortunately, substance misuse is a huge problem amongst those who are suffering from depression, as many turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope with day to day life. However, the use of these drugs can actually trigger symptoms of depression, such as lethargy, sadness, and hopelessness. As a result, many people find themselves stuck in an endless cycle of substance misuse and depression. This is referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.
When suffering from depression you may have begun to use alcohol and drugs in order to escape negative emotions. Though it’s important to remember that drugs and alcohol can only provide temporary relief and addiction may soon become its own problem.
Warning Signs of Addiction
- Increased tolerance to the substance
- Withdrawal when stopping suddenly or reducing intake
- Inability to stop and stay stopped
- Affecting other areas of life such as interpersonal relationships and responsibilities
Depression & Withdrawal
Withdrawal from certain types of drugs and alcohol sometimes results in the onset of symptoms such as depression.
Alcohol withdrawal: After the acute withdrawal phase, you may experience agitation and anxiety. Many people also experience mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, low libido and feelings of hostility and anger.
Stimulant withdrawal: Withdrawal from stimulants such as meth and cocaine can leave users feeling depressed and fatigued for many weeks following their “comedown”.
Hallucinogen use: Some people who stop using hallucinogens can experience prolonged feelings of depression, psychotic reactions, and flashbacks.
Opioid withdrawal: Withdrawal from opioids, whether they’re prescription or illicit drugs, can result in severe body aches, and depression. Opioid withdrawal can also lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, and severe drug cravings.
Treatment for Depression & Addiction at CATCH Recovery
Treating a dual diagnosis can be a little more complex than treating addiction on its own. The first step is to confirm that there is a dual diagnosis present. For example, drugs like opioids and alcohol are known to cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, it’s important to correctly diagnose whether the mental illness is a by-product of substance abuse, or whether it is a separate issue that requires its own treatment. Failing to identify a dual diagnosis and continuing treatment for addiction could involve medications and therapies that might exacerbate the symptoms of depression or other mental illnesses.
Once you’ve received a duel-diagnosis, treatment can begin on both disorders. The doctor can prescribe the appropriate medication to help with the symptoms of depression as well as any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also teach relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation which can help with managing stressful situations and even help alleviate the symptoms of certain concurring disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Whether it’s residential rehab or intensive outpatient therapy, finishing a programme can also feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed without the structure and safety you’ve become accustomed to. With this in mind, we have created an exceptional aftercare programme designed to prevent relapse and help you deal with the stressors of everyday life.
Treatment for Depression & Addiction in London
Treating a dual diagnosis can be more complicated than treating addiction on its own, so ensuring you’re receiving the correct form of care is vital.
At CATCH Recovery, our team of addiction specialists have many years of experience treating co-occurring conditions such as depression and addiction. If you’re looking for depression and addiction treatment in the South East of England, you can call our admissions team for your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps.
Clinical depression can drain your energy and make you feel as though rehab might not work. However, with the combination of individual counselling, peer group support, and family counselling at CATCH, we can give you the strength you need to continue your recovery journey in spite of the challenges you face.
Our clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. However, if you need additional support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from some of the outpatient services we offer. If you require residential rehab and are unable to travel to London, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland.