Are Depressed People More Likely to Become Addicted?

Are Depressed People More Likely to Become Addicted?

Bad days and stress can cause anyone to seek out comfort, be it food, a glass of wine or sex. However, when people feel bad all the time, they are even more likely to seek out these comforts or mood enhancers over and over again, which increases the likeliness of addiction. Depressed people often have co-occurring addictions because of this behavior. Depression causes feelings of sadness, emptiness, helplessness and fatigue, so things that alleviate these issues may feel like a solution to unhappiness. The temporary relief can create repetitive behavior, and quickly an addiction can develop to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, shopping or even the internet.

Depressed people are more likely to become addicted. In their book 100 Questions and Answers about Depression Ava Albrecht and Charles Herrick state that, “male addicts have a rate of depression three times higher than the general public while female addicts have a rate that’s four times higher.”

The Role the Brain Plays in Depression and Addiction

Any addiction can be caused by an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of depression, but there is more to this theory. Depression is characterized by certain chemical imbalances in the brain, specifically the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Certain drugs, foods and behaviors can increase the release of or even produce these two chemicals, and they can affect the brain’s reward or pleasure centers. While depressed people have low amounts of serotonin and dopamine, addicts have high amounts of these two chemicals.
When a behavior or substance provides relief or happiness, it actually changes the chemical structure in the brain. Over time the brain relies on the synthetic production of dopamine and serotonin. Without the substance or activity that provides pleasure, the body will feel deprived and experience cravings. This is how a habit can develop into addiction without warning. These cravings or returning symptoms of depression make it difficult to quit.

Is Treatment Available for Both Depression and Addiction?

While it is common for depression and addiction to coexist, other problems may also be present such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or personality disorder. Coexisting problems must be treated simultaneously, because each disorder perpetuates the other. The symptoms of depression can increase symptoms of addiction and vice versa, therefore both problems need help at the same time to prevent relapse. This type of treatment is Dual Diagnosis treatment, a comprehensive approach that addresses multiple needs at the same time.

Find Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Depression and Addiction

If you struggle with depression and addiction, we can help you find Dual Diagnosis treatment that fits your individual recovery needs. Our addiction counselors are available 24 hours a day to assist you with all your treatment and recovery needs. Please call our toll-free helpline now if you are ready to find lasting solutions for your recovery.