Does Depression Lead to Substance Abuse?

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 12th January 2024

Does Depression Lead to Substance Abuse?

Once seen as a taboo subject, mental health issues, such as depression are experienced now more than ever, and are talked about now more than ever. Yet, while an understanding of depression as an illness may be present, many individuals fail to recognise the cause of depression, along with the risks it poses if uncontrolled.

Highs and lows are expected for every given human on the planet. In most cases, we cannot control those moments. However, for the average person, emotions can be digested, helping to rebalance outlooks and feelings. For someone with clinical depression, that control is lacking, where the lows are heightened, taking over all things good.

Down to this difficult and sad mindset, many individuals suffering from depression will consume drugs and alcohol. They will see those substances as respite, and an escapism from the signs and symptoms of depression.

By enabling this unhealthy coping strategy, there are strong risks of developing a physical and psychological association, posing as substance abuse and addiction.

If you’re wondering ‘does depression lead to substance abuse?’, there is a definite link between both. Depression as a pre-existing mental health issue can increase the risks of substance abuse. Pre-existing consumption of drugs and alcohol can also influence the side effects linked to depression.

The development of substance abuse isn’t definite for every individual living with depression. Yet, there’s a high, unhealthy correlation, which must be worked through as a dual diagnosis. For support with depression, with substance abuse, or with their link, contact our team at Cassiobury Court.


Depression as a mental health illness

The definition of depression, in fact, covers a wide range of signs and symptoms, of mental health issues. However, they all fall into a similar category, where negativity, where sadness, where worry takes over.

For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder is under the umbrella of depression. While exact side effects are different, they all revolve around the brain’s response to certain situations; mostly negative. Some people also experience phases of depression, such as Blue Monday.

Following the theme of variation, causations of depression also differ. A low experience to one individual may not impact the next individual in a similar manner. It all depends on perceptions, on biology, on social and environmental factors, and on pre-existing mental health states.

Common signs of depression include:

  • A general feeling of sadness or negativity
  • Negative responses to certain events
  • Low self esteem
  • Insomnia
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability

A change in persona, where interests will deviate, where responsibilities will change and whether priorities will adapt.

The above signs of depression can represent many different mental health issues. With this in mind, if you’re personally struggling, it is important that you do source professional support.

Depression, as a mental health illness, can become chronic if uncontrolled. Here, the unhealthy habit of substance abuse can materialise, further mental health issues can develop, quality of life can reduce, and sadly, suicide risks can increase.

With this in mind, if you’re feeling low, if you’re struggling to get out of the dark hole that represents depression, it’s time to speak up.


Depression and substance abuse – how do they link?

Are you wondering ‘does depression lead to substance abuse?’. If so, it’s important to understand the mutual link between both depression and substance abuse.

Depression can in fact lead to substance abuse. This can be a common case, where those unbearable symptoms of depression are masked by abusing the likes of drugs and alcohol. For someone living with depression, drugs and alcohol can in fact be viewed as a positive coping strategy.

Yet, ultimately, that positive is a respite, causing long-term damages by increasing the risk of addiction. With this in mind, yes, depression can materialise into substance abuse, ranking this as a dual diagnosis.

It is however important to note that depression will not always lead to substance abuse. However, it is a common link when considering mental health issues.

It is however important to look at the other end of the spectrum and consider whether substance abuse leads to depression. In fact, it does, as excessive drug and alcohol abuse cause adaptations in the brain, increasing weaknesses and susceptibility of mental health issues.

Within that risk comes the development of depressive side effects. Again, the vicious circle will begin, as substance abuse will continue to treat the symptoms of depression. When unknowingly users will aggravate an addiction and heighten the side effects of depression.

With this in mind, depression and substance abuse go hand in hand, are dangerous illnesses to cross over, and can be a difficult mix to treat. However, they are treatable with the right support. It is however encouraged that you aim to take control of each, prior to the surfacing of a dual diagnosis.


Does depression lead to substance abuse?

As we’ve highlighted above, yes depression can lead to substance abuse. However, we are talking on an average basis. It is important to remember that mental health issues are personal.

With this in mind, not every individual living with depression will cope with the reliance on drugs and alcohol. In tandem, all individuals abusing substances will not experience the side effects of depression.

We must make this note, as we do not want to worry those suffering from mental health issues. It is however important to source support as soon as you spot the signs and symptoms of a mental health issue, reducing this influential lead through substance abuse prevention.


Treating a dual diagnosis via rehab

Whether you’re struggling from depression as a standalone condition, or also suffer through substance abuse, we can assist you here at Cassiobury Court. Following a dual diagnosis approach, treatment will be required for both conditions on an independent basis.

We can treat alcohol addiction and drug addiction in addition to any mental health problems at one of our rehabilitation centres.

It is very important that you do opt for professional support when living with the likes of depression or substance abuse. While they are normalised, and while many people believe that they can personally be worked through, in most cases they cannot be.

This is especially the case when considering clinical depression and addiction risks.

‘Does depression lead to substance abuse?’ is a common question we get asked. In short, yes, it does, if uncontrolled. However, not for every given individual. Like any other mental health issues, depression and substance abuse are personal and will materialise into further illnesses, if enabled.

John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 12th January 2024

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.