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Depression Caused by Substance Abuse

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Depression affects millions of people every year. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders, yet many people continue living with this disease, without getting the treatment they need for it.

The cause of depression is still being studied, but we do know that it can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain due to things like hormone changes. Other things can cause depression, such as substance abuse, the circumstances someone finds themselves in, or the events that take place in someone’s life.

Symptoms of depression include lack of energy and motivation, self loathing, oversleeping or insomnia, and weight changes. A person that is clinically depressed will often lose interest in the things and people in their life, and will struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. Someone with depression may also have trouble concentrating, and will find it difficult to do even the simplest, everyday tasks.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis refers to patients that have both depression and an addiction to something. These two diseases often go hand in hand, and increase the symptoms and side effects of each other. A person that has both depression and is addicted to drugs or alcohol will need to be treated for both conditions together for the best chance at recovery. Many facilities now offer dual diagnosis treatment because treating one and leaving the other will cause the patient to continue in an ongoing cycle of recovery and relapse.

We know that drug and alcohol addiction often occurs alongside depression, but it has been unknown which condition typically comes first or causes the other. A study that was reported in last year’s Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that alcohol abuse causes depression more often than a person’s depression causes them to self-medicate with alcohol. The study’s conclusion proposed that alcohol’s depressant characteristics may lead many people to be mentally depressed, and that the stress and circumstances brought on by alcohol abuse may also be the cause of depression in many people. We do know that people with a drug or alcohol problem commonly feel ashamed of their behavior and may suffer legal, financial, and social consequences because of it, all of which could cause depression.

Getting Help for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Our mental health is not something to take lightly. It can be so difficult to come out of a depression, and the habits and behaviors that are formed during times of mental illness are hard to overcome. Treatment is available and can be very effective. For long term mental health, and to help prevent depression, it may be helpful to join a support group or group therapy. Other things like a healthy diet, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and engaging in some exercise have been found to help prevent and also treat depression.


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Bethany Winkel

This article was written by Bethany Winkel

Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.