Dealing with Depression and Addiction

Because one greatly affects the other, dealing with depression and addiction can be challenging.

The term dual diagnosis is a term used to describe the link that exists between mental illness and substance abuse. Depression and other mood disorders often feed into substance abuse, and the same is true in reverse. These conditions are known to “feed one another”, as one condition will often exacerbate the other. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) , individuals who suffer from anxiety or another mood disorder are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or substance abuse problem at some point in their lives than those who do not suffer from a mental health condition.  Individuals who are dealing with depression and addiction are in a challenging situation. In order for one condition to get better, both or all of the conditions must be addressed and treated.

When an individual suffers from two or more disorders or illnesses occurring simultaneously or one followed by another, this is referred to as comorbidity. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in order to understand comorbidity, we must understand that drug addiction is a mental illness. When someone is dealing with depression and addiction, they are suffering from different facets of the same disease, which is mental illness. Addiction is a complex brain disease that is comprised of behaviors that an individual is unable to control. These behaviors include drug craving and seeking, as well as using, regardless of consequences.  Compulsive behaviors are also typical. It has been found that these behaviors often result from changes in brain function that are caused by drug abuse. These changes occur in the same locations within the brain that are disrupted by mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. In addition, research has proven that there is a high rate of comorbidity between mental illness and drug addiction. While the relationship between depression and substance abuse doesn’t always have a clear-cut origin, the risk factors for certain mental health disorders and subsequent drug abuse have been proven.  Luckily, effective treatment can be found in depression and addiction centers  – which specialize in the treatment of dual diagnoses.

Dealing with depression and addiction can be difficult for medical professionals as well as for the individuals who suffer from these conditions. While there are specific protocols in treatment that are very effective for patients dealing with depression and addiction, the changes that take place in the brain as a result of substance abuse vary in each individual. Depression and addiction treatment centers specialize in dealing with depression and addiction by using methods proven from scientific research to treat comorbid conditions concurrently, by:

  • Using medications with a low abuse potential that exist to treat opioid and alcohol addictions. These medications reduce cravings and also alleviate symptoms of mental disorders. For example, bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin or Zyban) is approved to treat depression, nicotine dependence, and it also reduces cravings and use of the drug methamphetamine.
  • In conjunction with medicinal therapies, behavioral therapies are used and are often the primary treatment for individuals with comorbid disorders. One specific treatment that is highly successful and well established is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. This therapy works to identify, understand, and modify certain thought processes and behavior patterns that worsen addiction symptoms or mental health conditions. Benefits of CBT can usually be seen within 12 to 16 weeks.

In studying the relationship between depression and substance abuse, it is found that both types of therapies worked better when in used in conjunction with one another.  When dealing with depression and addiction, it is important to keep in mind that these two conditions share certain triggers. Possible connections between the two include:

  • The brain. Similar parts of the brain are affected by both depression and substance abuse.
  • Genetic factors can make it more likely that one condition will develop once the other has materialized.
  • Developmental problems. Drug use at an early age can cause mental illness to develop later on. The opposite is also true: mental health issues at an early age can raise the risk for substance abuse later on.

For more information about dealing with depression and addiction as well as the relationship between depression and substance abuse, call us now at 1-(800)-429-7690, and learn how the management of comorbid conditions can be effective for patients in depression and addiction treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnoses.


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