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Addiction and Depression: A Vicious Cycle

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with both depression and addiction. Each disease can be difficult to deal with on its own, so dealing with both at the same time is obviously more challenging. With depression being one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the United States, it’s no surprise that many depressed individuals also suffer from a substance use disorder.

According to PsychGuides, American Addiction Resource, there are a few ways that the diseases are related. First, withdrawal from certain drugs or alcohol can trigger depression, leaving the individual feeling hopeless and irritable. If someone already has a preexisting mental health condition, withdrawal can intensify the illness even further.

Understanding the risk factors for depression and substance use disorder can help people recognize symptoms in themselves or their loved ones. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has outlined several risk factors for depression, including traumatic childhood experiences, family members with depressive disorders, stressful life events, and chronic medical conditions. Although these factors put you at a higher risk, anyone can suffer from depression.

The risk factors for substance use disorder are often similar, such as family history, high stress levels, financial distress, early aggressive behavior, and lack of parental supervision/involvement.

In addition, drugs and alcohol can be used as self-medication for those struggling with depression. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, some turn to substances to dull the pain. Substances often exacerbate these illnesses rather than relieve them. Although there might be momentary relief, withdrawal from self-medication will soon kick in and symptoms will intensify.

It is also important to note that self-medicating outside of doctor’s orders is often a sign of addiction, and for those suffering, it can be difficult to see the danger in this type of thinking. The longer this self-medication continues, the more dependent the individual becomes on substances to get through their everyday life.

Dealing with both addiction and depression at the same time can be challenging, but help is available. It is possible to address both of these diseases through integrated treatment programs.

If you’re struggling with addiction, call Spectrum Health Systems today at (800) 366-7732.

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