Addiction or substance use disorder is a mental health condition that impacts one's brain and behaviour. It causes an uncontrollable urge of using substances such as drugs and alcohol. Substance misuse or abuse soon takes the shape of addiction, i.e., an individual becomes unable to stop their drug or alcohol intake.
The National Institute of Mental Health reported that almost half of all individuals suffering from substance use disorder also have a mental health condition, such as depression. While the symptoms of depression, like having a low mood, can cause an individual to abuse alcohol or drugs, substance use also causes depression. It triggers brain changes that make an individual prone to developing a mental health condition.
Please continue reading to determine the relationship between substance abuse and depression, its symptoms and treatment plan for substance abuse and depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, individuals with addiction also have mental health conditions. These co-occurring conditions include:
● Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
● Personality disorders
● Bipolar disorder
The frequent co-occurrence of substance abuse and depression disorder does not mean that one causes the other. The research further suggests three possibilities that explain the relationship between substance abuse and depression:
● Substance abuse and brain changes. Prolonged use of substances causes changes in brain function and structure, which results in an increased likeliness to develop mental health conditions.
● Self-medication. Individuals often use drugs or alcohol to ease their symptoms. Intoxication may come as a relief, but it tends to worsen one's condition over time.
● Common risk factors. Substance abuse and depression disorder share common risk factors such as stress and trauma. Individuals at a higher risk of having a mental health condition are also at risk of substance abuse.
No two individuals having depression have the same symptoms. However, some common symptoms include:
● Feeling guilty
● Body pain and aches
● Changes in sleep and appetite
● Loss of interest in activities
● Suicidal thoughts
● Reduced physical activity
● Lack of concentration
● Feeling agitated
Symptoms of substance abuse vary among people; it is based on the mental health conditions and the substance abused by the individual. Prolong substance abuse impairs one's life, causing:
● Negatively impacts daily functions, such as neglecting hygiene routines
● Mood swings
● Reduced social interaction and isolation
● Decreased physical health, such as sudden changes in weight or sleep
● Financial strain
● Decreased involvement in hobbies
Generally, individuals experiencing substance abuse also have two or more addiction criteria mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. These include:
● Strong urges or cravings to use substances.
● Using substances in larger amounts for longer periods than intended.
● Multiple failed attempts to stop or limit substance use.
● Withdrawal symptoms when abstaining.
● Developed tolerance to substance use.
Rehabilitation centres offer dual diagnosis treatment that simultaneously treats both substance abuse and depression. Substance abuse and depression treatment overlap just like their symptoms. Certain therapies and medications are effective for treating both conditions. Mental health professionals curate an individualised treatment plan to meet the person's needs. The treatment includes:
Cognitive behavioural therapy, a type of behavioural therapy commonly used in substance use disorder treatment, helps individuals learn healthy coping styles to deal with undesirable thoughts and behaviours.
Antidepressants are used to treat depression; some commonly used medications include:
● Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, duloxetine, and escitalopram.
● Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine.
● Tricyclic antidepressants, such as doxepin, amitriptyline, and desipramine.
Medication used for treating substance use disorders depends on the type of substance abuse. These may include:
● Naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine for opioid use disorder
● Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone for alcohol use disorder