By: Nick
March 11, 2022

How Does Depression Affect Addiction?

Table of Contents

Depression (commonly known as major depressive disorder) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. According to data provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

  • An estimated 21.0 million (8.4 percent) of adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
  • The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).
  • The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).


Depression has adverse effects on the lives of those who experience this mental disorder. It is no surprise that depression affects addiction. This article further will explain the signs of depression, the connection between depression and substance use, and the strong connection between depression and addiction.


What are the Signs of Depression?

For many people, depression will occur only once in their lifetime. However, people may experience several episodes of depression. The following are the common symptoms associated with depression:

  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Outbursts of anger and frustration, even over small or trivial matters
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Unexplained back pains or headaches


The symptoms of depression can manifest in different ways depending on the age of the person. For example, teens and young adults who experience depression may experience aches and pains more than adults. For older adults, their symptoms may be less noticeable and can include memory deficits, sleep problems, and not wanting to be social with family or friends.


How Does Depression Affect Addiction?

The ways depression affects addiction can be a bit complex. The common pathway between depression and substance abuse is seen in those who are already dealing with depression. Those dealing with a major depressive episode often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the intense feelings associated with this mental disorder. People who deal with depression may turn to substance abuse to self-medicate their symptoms rather than seek professional mental health treatment.


Depression affects addiction because people get caught in a vicious cycle of ever-increasing substance use and abuse to the point of full-blown addiction. This cycle can be thought of in four parts:

  • Tolerance: When a drug is taken, the body gets used to it and will need larger doses in order to get the desired effect.
  • Withdrawal: When drug intake is reduced or stopped entirely, people will experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can be very uncomfortable and painful to endure.
  • Remorse: People who use substances take them to feel better but often feel guilty and have a strong sense of shame for taking them in the first place.
  • Relapse: When people quit substances and try to achieve sobriety, the cravings and temptations to use can prove too strong—and they end up using again.


As one can clearly see, the relationship between depression and substance abuse is strong. For those who find themselves addicted to substances and have a co-occurring mental health disorder should seek dual diagnosis treatment. As a result, people with dual diagnosis need to seek specialized care at a treatment center that features dual diagnosis treatment programs.


How to Find Treatment for Depression and Addiction

The combination of depression and addiction is devastating. If you or a loved one has a dual diagnosis condition, it is imperative to receive the appropriate care as soon as possible. A regular rehab program just focusing on substance abuse or mental health will not be adequate for your needs. In fact, it can make your condition much worse. Fortunately, Multi Concept Recovery can help you.


Our outpatient treatment facility offers substance abuse and mental health treatment services that are personalized for your unique and specific needs. Instead of simply treating the symptoms of mental illness and addiction, our programs utilize an integrated approach that treats the person as a whole—mind, body, and soul. We offer a broad range of treatment programs and services that are administered by experienced staff in a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment.

Today is the day to address and overcome your dual diagnosis. Call MCR right now.