Does Depression Cause Addiction – Or The Other Way Around?

Does Depression Cause Addiction – Or The Other Way Around?

Depression and anxiety are common among people battling substance abuse. People with these conditions are more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to reduce pain and improve happiness. However, these substances can be addictive. The more you consume, the more likely you are to become dependent. Over time, drug and alcohol use can lead to long-term health problems, worsened depression and severe addiction. 

Living with depression or anxiety is difficult at times, but these conditions are treatable. Let’s learn more about the relationship between mental illness and substance abuse, the different types of depression and anxiety and the importance of holistic outpatient treatment. 

The Anger-Hurt-Loving Model 

In many cases, untreated mental and emotional issues drive addictive behaviors. This is the concept behind the Anger-Hurt-Loving model. Here’s how the model works. 

Behind every feeling of anger, there’s emotional hurt. What this means is that when you feel angry, it’s because some type of you is hurting. However, because you were probably taught not to show your anger, you push down this hurt. 

When this hurt sits inside your body, it’s easy to feel depressed. With different emotions bouncing around, you may start to feel anxious, too. This is what leads to moodiness and irritability, as your body is in a constant state of fight or flight.

So where does addiction fit in? Well, with all of these emotions going on, you are desperate to feel good. Drugs and alcohol temporarily take away the pain and become addictive very quickly. What needs to change is how you respond to negative emotions. Even though they are painful, you must learn to process them in a healthy, loving manner. This is when true healing occurs. 

Types of Depression and Anxiety 

One of the most eye-opening studies on depression found that more than 50 percent of Americans will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. Sadly, many of these individuals are unable to get the help they need. Without proper treatment, people living with depression or anxiety are at a greater risk for substance abuse. 

Here are the main types of depression to be aware of: 

  • Major depression. This is the most common form of depression and it includes symptoms like extreme sadness, irritability and lack of energy for more than two weeks. 
  • Dysthymia. A milder form of depression, dysthymia causes you to feel gloomy for more than 1-2 years. It can lead to major depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder. SAD is a type of depression affected by variations in light. Depressive symptoms come in the fall or early winter and subside in the spring.
  • Atypical depression. This form of depression is characterized by high and low periods. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat because the symptoms aren’t always consistent. 

As for anxiety, there are four main types: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. GAD makes you feel anxious most days for six months or more. 
  • Social anxiety. This type of anxiety leaves you feeling anxious in social situations, like speaking publicly or eating in front of others. 
  • Phobias. If you feel fearful of a particular object or situation and go through great lengths to avoid it, it means you have a phobia.
  • Panic disorder. Panic disorder causes intense panic attacks for more than one month. 

man sitting on bench alone

Ways to Treat Depression and Anxiety 

It’s important to be aware of the different types of depression and anxiety so that you can recognize your symptoms and seek treatment from a holistic recovery center. Untreated mental illness increases the chances that you’ll use drugs and alcohol to escape your feelings. 

However, just because you are receiving treatment doesn’t mean that you’re automatically healed. It takes time to find the right combination and dosage of medications. Additionally, psychotherapy should be included in your treatment plan. 

Generally speaking, here are the best treatments for anxiety and depression: 

  • Medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants are helpful in treating both depression and anxiety. Sedatives and nerve pain medications can also help.
  • Self-care. People with anxiety or depression require good self-care. This includes physical exercise, stress management, relaxation techniques and a healthy diet. 
  • Therapies. It’s important to understand why you feel the way you do. Effective therapies for treating mental illness are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy.

Why Medication Alone is Not Enough 

Some people think that medication is the answer to their problems. While medications for depression and anxiety are effective, they don’t address the root cause of your pain. They only alleviate the symptoms. And, some medications like benzodiazepines can be addictive and make things worse. 

To manage symptoms and prevent the risk for addiction, it’s important to seek counseling. You should do this once you are on medication so that you have a rational mind and healthy perspective. Through therapy, you will learn about yourself, why you’re feeling the way you are and what may have led you to use drugs and alcohol. 

Once you uncover the reasons for your past hurt, you can achieve full healing and recover from depression, anxiety and substance abuse. 

Getting Help for a Dual Diagnosis

When a person suffers from a mental health disorder and substance use disorder, it’s called a dual diagnosis. To treat a dual diagnosis, you need a holistic outpatient treatment center that has experience treating mental illness and addiction. As you get sober and learn to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety, you will be less likely to abuse these substances in the future. 

Continuum Recovery Center is a holistic outpatient drug treatment center that has experience with dual diagnosis clients. Our treatment services are flexible and allow you to work or go to school while getting help for multiple health problems. You can stay in outpatient rehab for as long as you need and have continued access to counseling, therapy, medication, family education and holistic healing practices. 

To learn more about our outpatient rehab, contact Continuum Recovery Center today.