How Can Depression Worsen Addiction?

How Can Depression Worsen Addiction?

Many people misunderstand depression, viewing it only as a feeling of sadness that most people will feel after an adverse event occurs in their life. Still, clinical depression is a much more severe problem, with roughly 50% of women and between 30 and 40% of men struggling with depression at some point in their lives. What’s more, 32% of people who struggle with depression have a co-occurring problem with addiction. So, can depression worsen addiction? Is there any relationship between depression and addiction? 


What are the Signs of Depression?

According to the DSM-5, diagnostic criteria for depression, signs for major depression include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Problems sleeping, such as hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Prolonged fatigue or complete lack of energy
  • Diminished ability to concentrate, think, or make decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthless, or helplessness
  • Significant weight problems, such as weight gain or loss
  • Diminished interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide


For various depressive disorders, these symptoms appear a set amount of time, such as five or more of the symptoms listed above continuing for more than two weeks for major depressive disorder, and three or more of the symptoms listed above continuing for more than two weeks for minor depressive disorder. Usually, the signs of depression are so severe that they interfere with daily life. But how can depression worsen addiction too?


How are Depression and Addiction-Related?

Depression and addiction are often related in that people who struggle with depression try to self-medicate. This form of self-medication results in dependence. The more someone uses drugs or alcohol to change their mood and alleviate their symptoms of depression, the worse the depression and substance abuse become long-term.


When someone struggles with depression, they often have a chemical imbalance in the brain, possible trauma, or a family history of depression. When they turn to alcohol or drugs to help alleviate their symptoms, it only works temporarily. Long-term, drugs, and alcohol also change brain chemistry leading to more considerable imbalances. Someone who already struggles with an imbalance can make depression worse. So when depressive episodes arise down the line, they become more intense, take place more often, or manifest with more symptoms. This means more drugs and alcohol are needed to achieve the same effect.  


Conversely, depression and addiction can be related in other ways. Someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing condition of depression might find that the chemical changes to their brain brought about by addiction can lead to imbalances that cause symptoms and signs of depression throughout prolonged substance abuse. So, someone struggling with substance abuse might find that they are also struggling with depression over a few months. And this leads to the vicious cycle of self-medication by increasing drug and alcohol consumption, only to find that the symptoms of depression worsen with time.


How Can Depression Worsen Addiction?

Depression and substance abuse have a particularly complicated relationship. For that reason, many people wonder, “can depression worsen addiction” and the answer is: yes. Depression can worsen addiction by encouraging higher use of drugs and alcohol, all in an attempt to diminish the signs of depression. The more depressed someone is, the more they will use drugs and alcohol to “solve” their problems. Undiagnosed conditions aren’t treated with the proper medications, so the situation is worsened with substance abuse. This makes the addiction stronger. Soon, codependency is developed where individuals suffering from depression only know how to pause their symptoms with substance abuse rather than self-care or medications. 


How to Find Treatment for Depression and Addiction

To find treatment for depression and addiction, you need to locate a program specializing in coexisting conditions. Sometimes called dual diagnosis, specialized facilities like Laguna View Detox have the tools and the therapy programs to treat depression and addiction simultaneously rather than only focusing on one.


Finding treatment requires a personalized program to have the highest chance of success. No two people struggle with addiction or depression in the same way. For some people, depression might be genetic, while it could be a symptom of prolonged substance abuse for others. For that reason, a personalized treatment program at a luxury facility can help you understand factors that have contributed to your addiction and identify the underlying causes of your depression. Our inpatient residential programs utilize world-class methods to help you change the way your brain is structured, going back to a healthier state. Our continuing aftercare programs keep you connected to the recovery community as you continue to treat things like depression with medication Management in ongoing therapy.

Let Laguna View Detox help you with individualized treatment programs to treat your depression and addiction.