What Is Depression?
Depression is a mood/mental health disorder that causes individuals to
experience extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness for long periods
of time. Individuals that suffer from depression also usually lose interest
in activities that were once enjoyable to them. Over time, depression
can cause individuals to experience physical symptoms, such as trouble
sleeping, heart problems, and diabetes.
To cope with these emotional and physical symptoms of depression, many
people choose to use alcohol or drugs. As a result, these people start
to develop an addiction to these substances on top of their depression.
At this point, these individuals suffer from both substance abuse and
Severe depression that’s left untreated can result in individuals
dying by suicide. Because of the severe effects of depression, it’s
important that people recognize the signs and symptoms of this disorder
so that they can seek help and receive immediate treatment.
Signs & Symptoms of Depression
The signs and symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. To
be diagnosed with depression, individuals must experience several of the
following signs and symptoms nearly every day for a period of months to years.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
- Irritability and anger
- Loss of interest in activities that one once enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping
- Excessive sleeping
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Reduced or increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Slowed speaking, thinking, and moving
- Fixation on failures and past mistakes
- Blaming oneself for anything that goes wrong in life
- Trouble thinking or concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of death and suicide
- Suicide attempts
- Unexplained physical issues, such as sudden heart disease or diabetes
Prior to experiencing the signs and symptoms of depression, individuals
are often triggered to experience depression. This is especially true
for individuals who are already genetically inclined to suffer from the disorder.
What Triggers Depression?
There are many different things that may trigger or cause depression. The
exact triggers of depression depend on the individual.
Some of the most common triggers of depression include:
Negative Life Changes: When people experience sudden changes in life, it can cause them to become
overwhelmed and, eventually, depressed. This is especially true if the
changes in a person’s life aren’t pleasant ones. For example,
a change in finances due to a person in the household losing his or her
job can stress individuals out to the point of developing depressive symptoms.
Another major life change that can trigger depression in someone is a
negative change in a relationship. For example, a breakup with a romantic
partner could make someone that’s already susceptible or genetically
inclined to developing depression feel worthless. In turn, he or she starts
to develop depression symptoms. The loss of a friend or family member
due to death or dysfunction is also a negative change in relationship
that can trigger depression. Negative life events such as the experience
of trauma can also trigger depression in certain individuals.
Positive Life Changes: Many people do not realize that positive life changes can trigger depression.
This is because people tend to only associate depression with negativity.
However, any life change, whether negative or positive, can trigger depression
symptoms. This is because the change in and of itself can be stressful
and place people out of their comfort zones. For example, some people
may experience depression symptoms after moving away from family or friends
for school or a new job. Although the reason behind such a move is positive,
the change itself, plus the anxiety of having to learn how to function
without the comforts of being close to one’s family members and
friends, can trigger depression. This is especially true for individuals
that are already inclined to suffer from the disorder.
Loneliness: Humans, whether introverted or extraverted, are social creatures by nature.
Therefore, individuals who feel ostracized from society or alone in life
for whatever reason can start to develop depression.
Trauma: Trauma can easily trigger depression in someone who experiences it. This
is because trauma is the mind and body’s response to intensely stressful
and harmful situations. For example, many active soldiers and war veterans
experience depression after going through the traumatic experiences of
fighting for their lives. Individuals that are physically, mentally, emotionally,
and/or sexually abused in some way also often experience depression after
Other Mental Health Disorders: Often, the symptoms of certain mental health disorders overlap. As a result,
experiencing one mental health disorder can lead to the development of
another. For example, many people who suffer from
anxiety also later suffer from depression, and vice versa. This is because both
of these mental health disorders have similar effects.
Substance Use: Substance use is a common trigger for depression because it can alter chemicals
in the brain that can cause individuals to feel depressed. Individuals
with this condition must receive treatment at rehab centers for depression
and substance abuse.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is the inability to stop using substances despite negative consequences
in the user’s life. Addiction is also characterized by the willingness
to do almost anything to get more of the substance, including hurting
oneself and others.
To be considered a drug addict, individuals must also suffer from drug
dependency. Drug dependency is characterized by the experience of withdrawal
symptoms anytime that someone minimizes or discontinues the use of a substance
that he or she has been using.
Signs & Symptoms of Addiction
The signs and symptoms of addiction can be psychological, social, behavioral,
or physical. Symptoms of substance addiction also vary depending on the
substance that a person is addicted to.
Common signs and symptoms of addiction include:
- Risky behavior
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Lying and stealing
- Change of social circle
- Troubles at school or work
- Troubles sleeping
- Financial issues
What Triggers Addiction?
Similar to mental illnesses like depression, many things can trigger addiction.
Some common triggers for addiction include:
Celebrations: People often drink and use substances at parties and celebrations. As a
result, parties and celebrations can easily become a trigger for addiction.
This is especially the case for individuals who feel left out when they
aren’t partaking in everything that is going on at a celebration or party.
Being Around Other Substance Abusers: Who people choose to surround themselves with often makes a huge impact
on their decisions. This is because social environments are huge influences
on people. Therefore, if a person always chooses to surround him or herself
with people that abuse substances, such an environment will often trigger
substance abuse in someone that is already inclined to develop a substance
Stress: Stress is a very common trigger for addiction. This is because people who
feel stressed will often turn to substance use to cope. These substances
seem to provide relief, but any relief is always temporary.
Trauma: Similar to stress, many individuals turn to substance use and abuse to
cope with trauma. This is because using substances often helps numb the
pain or anxiety that individuals feel due to their past trauma.
Mental Illness: Mental illness is a very common trigger for substance abuse. This is because
many individuals start using substances to cope with their mental illness.
When individuals chronically abuse substances while suffering from a mental
illness, it causes them to develop an addiction on top of their already
occurring mental health disorder. Thus, such individuals develop co-occurring
disorders. One of the most common co-occurring disorders is that of substance
abuse and depression.
Loneliness: Loneliness is another common trigger for substance abuse. This is because
people who often feel lonely may experience a “void” they
wish to fill in their lives. Substance use can be social in nature, but
even solitary substance use can help ease the feelings of loneliness some
Substance Abuse & Depression
Substance abuse and depression often co-occur for a number of reasons.
First, depression and substance addiction are often triggers for one another.
Thus, chronically abusing substances can act as a catalyst for both addiction
and depression—and suffering from depression can act as a catalyst
for substance abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse is a common catalyst for depression because chronic substance
abuse causes chemical changes in the brain that trigger many of depression
symptoms. Chemical changes to the brain due to substance use can lead
to symptoms that are incredibly similar to depression symptoms, such as
irritability, sudden weight loss or weight gain, lack of personal hygiene,
anxiety, fatigue, and physical health issues. Substance abusers also often
feel depression symptoms when they crash from their substance use.
On the flip side, many people who suffer from depression choose to use
substances as a way to cope and mask their depressive symptoms. Unfortunately,
chronic substance use often makes these depressive symptoms worse.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment for Drug Addiction & Depression
Struggling with substance abuse and depression is extremely difficult.
Whether you are suffering from co-occurring disorders yourself, or you
are wondering how you can help a loved one, know that healing
At Grace Land Recovery, we offer comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment
for substance abuse and depression in Memphis and the surrounding areas.
Dual-diagnosis treatment programs are addiction treatment programs that
simultaneously provide treatment for mental illness. It’s important
to simultaneously treat a co-occurring mental health disorder and substance
use disorder because these two types of disorders often act as triggers
for one another. Therefore, if a person tries to treat his or her substance
use and mental health disorders individually, the untreated disorder will
often quickly trigger the reappearance of the treated disorder while one
is between treatment programs.