How are Depression and Addiction Related?

Understanding Your Mental Health Is Important If You Need To Seek Help For Depression And Addiction.

How Are Depression And Addiction Related?

Having depression and addiction may be caused by factors including your family’s history, the trauma you suffered as a child, genetics, or other environmental factors. Your depression may occur in different forms depending on the substance you are misusing, meaning that depression and alcohol addiction and depression and substance abuse may affect your body in varying ways.    

Either condition can occur first and then exacerbate the other, or they may start off as co-occurring.

Depression and Addiction

Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse

If you suffer from depression or other mental health conditions, you may also be affected by substance misuse. A substance use disorder (SUD) affects your brain and behavior, making you lose control over your alcohol or other drug consumption.

Relevant Statistics

As reported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about half of all people with an SUD have a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression. Reports also confirm that:


  • 20.9% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 had either a SUD or a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.
  • 14.4% had an MDE but not a SUD.
  • 3.7% (or almost a million people) had an SUD but not an MDE.
  • 2.7 % had both an MDE and a SUD in the past year.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by sadness, feelings of hopelessness, and anxiety. These feelings may alter how you feel and behave. For medical personnel to diagnose you with depression, you must have experienced at least five symptoms of depression and have experienced all five every day for two weeks. Besides feeling hopeless, you may also discover that you:
  • Are no longer interested in things that you were before
  • Lack energy
  • Have no appetite or eat too much
  • Can’t sleep, or sleep a lot
  • Have poor concentration

Depression After Using Drugs

Depression due to drugs may occur in many different forms. The drug you are addicted to gives you a short-acting high that may lead to varying types of depression. Once the drug’s effects wear off, you experience a “low crash.” 

What Are the Different Types of Depression?

You or a loved one can have a depressive disorder at any time. Medical experts have proved that significant symptoms of depression first appear in your late teens or early twenties. The common types of depression include: 2

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most common type of depressive disorder. MDD is diagnosed when you have shown five or more symptoms for more than two weeks, which also greatly interfere with daily activities. Some of the symptoms include:
  • Low or depressed mood
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Change in appetite
  • Reduced movement or agitation
  • Sleeping problems
  • Suicidal thoughts

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a chronic depressive disorder diagnosed after two years of exhibiting episodes of major depression and other periods of less severe symptoms, formerly known as dysthymia.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a mental illness that lasts anywhere from three to five months during certain seasons or when seasons change. The symptoms comprise either those of major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. 

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Reproductive hormones primarily influence PPD, making you feel extreme sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety during pregnancy or after delivery. For some women, it is normal to experience mild depression and anxiety after delivery for about two weeks. 

PDD is much more severe, making it hard to care for yourself and your baby. The depression may start during pregnancy and continue after delivery.

Depression with Psychosis

You are diagnosed to suffer from depression with psychosis when you have been experiencing symptoms of depression and also experience a disconnection from reality, which is referred to as psychosis. Reports by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that 4.3% of adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2016.3

Depression and Addiction

Symptoms of Psychosis

Another name for depression with psychosis is depression with psychotic features. Your mood, behavior, sleep, and eating patterns change with major depression. Besides common symptoms of depression. If you have depression with psychotic features, you may also exhibit the following symptoms:
  • False perceptions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression?

Different types of depression can affect you in varying ways, and each come with their specific symptoms. You may experience the following symptoms common to most types of depression:
  • A persistently depressed mood
  • Noticeably decreased pleasure or interest in activities
  • Significant changes in weight and appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide and death

The Link Between Depression and Addiction

Substance use disorder affects your brain and overall behavior. You may have started using substances to feel better when depressed; however, depression may also occur due to addiction. Here are some things to know:
  • Substance Misuse and Brain Changes: Substance abuse and depression go hand in hand. A chemical difference changes your brain’s neurotransmitter levels, causing depression and other mental disorders. The chemical imbalance in the brain may lead to dangers of depression, including self-harm, especially when the effect of the drug increases or decreases.
  • Self-Medication: When you realize that you are suffering from a mental health disorder such as depression or sleep disorder, you may try to buy medicines and other over-the-counter medications. Some of the drugs you use to self-medicate may have high potency for addiction; thus, you find yourself eventually developing a tolerance and needing help for addiction and depression.

Common Risk Factors

Some of the following factors may make you susceptible to depression and substance abuse:
  • Genetics factors, as doctors at Stanford showed that if your parent or sibling has depression, you are two to three times more likely to suffer from depression, unlike the general public.
  • A history of an immediate family member suffering from SUD.
  • Environmental factors such as peer pressure, film, TV, and celebrity culture or lifestyle.
  • Other factors include trauma, loss of a loved one, etc.


Antidepressants are used to treat depression and are meant to work together with therapy to give you a higher chance of full recovery. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants to manage your condition and other therapy forms.


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a rehabilitation intervention used by mental health professionals to assist you in identifying and changing problematic thoughts, emotions, and behavior you may have acquired due to depression and addiction. You may achieve depression addiction recovery through one-on-one and group sessions.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy involves putting you under anesthesia, then introducing an electric current to your brain to cause cerebral seizures to treat severe depression and other mental disorders.

Treatment For Substance Abuse

Substance abuse treatment opportunities will be detailed below.

Behavioral Counseling

Cognitive behavioral counseling (CBT) was initially intended for mental health therapy but has worked as an intervention for those that show signs of addiction. It helps to reconstruct the mind’s way of thinking and the behavior related to depression and addiction.


Medication-assisted treatment is used for substance abuse by medical professionals, mostly in rehabilitation facilities.

Evaluation And Treatment For Dual Diagnosis

Some centers offer a dual diagnosis for both conditions, making it easier for you to get treatment for addiction and depression simultaneously.

Treatment Of Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms will start once the body stops receiving the substance it has grown so used to. These symptoms can be hard to deal with, but can be positively managed using medical interventions and therapy.

Follow Up Plans

Your chances of relapse are much higher if you decide to do it alone. You need a treatment plan that includes aftercare for your addiction and depression through group therapies and one-on-one counseling. It would be best to receive treatment for both depression and substance abuse. Most rehabilitation centers offer dual diagnosis, ensuring you get both treatments. Accept all the support from family and other support groups to make the process more bearable. Below are a few coping mechanisms as well:
  • Make use of support groups
  • Don’t isolate yourself
  • Stay active if possible, and do the things you enjoy
  • Be gentle with yourself
Table of Contents

Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.