Co-Occurring Depression and Substance Abuse
There are many moments when people experience periods of sadness, anger, and frustration, but there is a difference between this and what is actually diagnosed as clinical depression.
When the above symptoms start to interfere with normal life and last over a minimum of two weeks, this is when the depressive state can cause an issue. Clinical depression interferes with an individual’s normal life by having effects on functioning in society, work goals, personal and family relationships.
Signs of Co-Occurring Depression Include:
- Extended period of sadness
- Loss of energy
- Frequent crying spells
- Loss of appetite
- Suicidal attempts or thoughts
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Ignoring family and friends
For individuals suffering from a clinical depressive disorder, we often see those in active addiction self medicate in order to fill the gaps that depression brings. Individuals have many different vices to fill the feeling of emptiness that depression brings, some of these vices include gambling, sex, and alcohol/drug abuse. When the addiction and abuse begins to take over and make life unmanageable, addiction turns into a matter of life or death for the user.
Dual Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder and Substance Use Disorder
One of the more serious mental health disorders is bipolar disorder. In essence, those with bipolar disorder experience sudden and intense mood changes, irrational and erratic behavior, and drastic energy level changes. The periods of high energy and euphoric moods are mania or hypomania. Alternatively, the extended period of low mood and energy are the symptoms of a major depressive episode. For this reason, medical professionals also refer to bipolar disorder as manic depression.
Signs of Mania in Bipolar Disorder:
- Increased activity, energy or agitation
- Decreased need for sleep
- Exaggerated sense of self
- Abnormally upbeat (euphoric) demeanor
- Racing, irrational thoughts
- Unusual talkativeness
- Rapid, disorganized speech
- Inability to focus or complete tasks
- Impulsive, erratic behavior
- Impaired decision-making
Often, individuals with bipolar disorder enjoy euphoria and cycles of productivity during a manic episode. In fact, people often abuse stimulants in an attempt to trigger an episode of mania. However, this euphoria is always replaced by an emotional crash that leaves the individual devastatingly depressed and fatigued.
Signs of Depression in Bipolar Disorder:
- Inconsolable sadness
- Excessive guilt
- Loss of interest in activities
- Inability to experience pleasure/emptiness
- Increased indecisiveness
- Significant weight loss without effort
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Suicidal ideation/attempt
Despite of the extreme nature of their moods, those with bipolar disorder are often blind to the negative impact of their emotional instability. Moreover, they are often oblivious, or unconcerned, with the ways in which their impulsive and erratic behaviors disrupt their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Far too often, these individuals don’t seek out the treatment they need as a result.