Depression can cause substance abuse but did you know that substance abuse can lead to depression?
Depression doesn't just affect adults, this illness plays no favorites. Children and adolescents, young adults, adults and the elderly are all included in this category. Left untreated or treated incorrectly, has led many people to substance abuse and drug or alcohol dependence.
This is not about excuses, but we need to take a hard look deep inside a person's substance abuse and addiction to understand why it may have started in the first place. We can't successfully treat something as serious as dependency and addiction until we know ‘why'.
There are many reasons a person experiments with drugs and alcohol. Many people of all ages are looking for a way to make themselves feel better inside, mentally and physically. In adults especially, an individual many times is looking to for a way to self-medicate in order to feel better. Many people turn to alcohol not realizing or understanding that this only makes depression worse. The individual is already depressed and due to lack of knowledge, they turn to a depressant such as alcohol to make themselves feel better.
Young people turn to alcohol, drugs or both because for the moment, it makes them feel better. They don't even realize they are depressed, most of them aren't trying to self-medicate because they are unaware there's even a problem. They just know that alcohol, marijuana or other drugs make them feel better for the moment and that's what they're looking for.
Substance abuse can also cause depression. Abusing drugs or alcohol over a period of time and experiencing the withdrawal symptoms associated with drug and alcohol use can lead to depression. Many drugs that are abused have a major effect on the brain and lead to depression. Alcohol and marijuana slows down functions in the brain and can cause depression and other drugs like cocaine causes extreme euphoria but when they crash, because of frequent use and abuse, can cause deep depression.
If a person is already suffering from depression before alcohol and drug use then becomes dependent on drugs that can cause depression, the emotional and physical effects of depression can be extremely serious. Many times, this has even lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
It's important to understand the serious signs of depression so it's not confused with ‘having the blues or just feeling down'. Signs of depression include:
- Feelings of unhappiness or sadness and it just won't go away (Many times, this sadness is for no apparent reason)
- Unexplained crying for no apparent reason
- Feeling irritable and frustrated no matter how big or small the situation is
- Agitation and restlessness, anxiety, can't sit still, excessive wringing of hands, pacing
- Loss of interest in pleasurable normal everyday things
- Reduced sex drive
- Extreme changes in eating habits, either loss of appetite and sometimes increased appetite and cravings for food
- Unable to concentrate, distracted easily, decision making or remembering things is affected
- Sleeping habits are affected, either excessive sleeping or insomnia
- Frequent thoughts of dying, death or suicide
- Headaches, unexplained physical problems like back pain
- Feeling worthless, dwelling on past failures, blaming one-self when things go wrong
- Loss of energy, emotional and physical fatigue
- Everything seems to require a lot of effort
Remember that depression affects people of all ages, and gone untreated or undiagnosed, can affect a person's life forever. Whether depression has ‘caused substance abuse' or substance abuse has ‘caused depression', the bottom line is that it can be devastating emotionally and physically and possibly life threatening to the individual suffering from this disorder. It's important to get help as soon as possible either way. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but this isn't something we can diagnose and treat on our own. Professional help is needed and if you have no one else to turn to for help call 1-800-559-9503 to find the right drug or alcohol program in your area.