Is There a Link Between Depression and Substance Abuse?


According to experts, depression and substance abuse go together so frequently that they are often referred to as dual diagnosis. Why do depression and substance abuse go together? The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that one problem will often bring the other and make it worse. Research studies have found that more than 20% of Americans with an anxiety, depression or mood disorder also experience a substance abuse disorder and vice versa.

Depression and substance abuse share some common characteristics and triggers, which makes it hard to know which one came first. Here are some connections that make these disorders similar:

  • Genetics: According to studies, both depression and addiction problems rely on DNA. This means that your genetics can make you more prone or likely to develop a mental disorder or an addiction.
  • The Brain: Both mental disorders and addiction issue affect similar areas of the brain and in a similar manner. Research has shown that addiction problems affect brain areas that are related to handling stress and anxiety responses, areas that are also affected by metal disorders.
  • Brain Development: Early mental disorders can increase one’s chances of later substance abuse. Likewise, early substance abuse can make mental illness more likely, due to the damages it causes to the brain.

If you or a loved one are dealing with a mental illness or substance abuse, and you are not sure who to contact:

  • Ask close friends or relatives to help you and see if they have any suggestions on who to contact.
  • Seek help from a specialist. Contact a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • Ask your primary care doctor for a referral, or contact any hospital or medical institution. They will be able to direct you and advise you on who best to speak with.

Do you or a loved one suffer from depression or substance abuse? See if you qualify for Segal’s clinical research study on Depression or Opioid Dependency today by clicking here.


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