Mental illness cannot be the new normal, especially when it occurs with another mental illness like substance abuse disorder. Believe it or not, over 9 million Americans suffer from multiple disorders at the same time.

If you believe you’re suffering from depression and addiction at the same time, you’re not alone. There is help out there for you. Let’s talk about the two illnesses, how to spot them, and what kind of treatment to look for.


Depression comes in many forms, and they’re all often hard to detect. While a diagnosis is always required, there are a few extremely common forms of depression.

Major depressive disorder is common, and it gets its title from the major depressive episodes that come with it. These can be sporadic or only happen once in a lifetime but still last long enough to coincide with substance abuse.

Manic or bipolar depression is another common illness known for its periods of mania followed by periods of extreme sadness.

Situational depression is depression over your current state in life. If you’re in an abusive relationship, surrounded by people you don’t like, at a job you hate or going through a divorce, this is the type of depression that often comes alongside.

Seasonal depression is brought on by the changes of the seasons and is most commonly brought about by the dark winter months. There are many other forms of depression, but these are a few of the most common.

Depression And Addiction

There is a definite link between depression and drug abuse. People suffering from depression are likely to feel defeated and hopeless, desperate for any kind of relief. Sometimes, the appeal of a substance may give them the short-term relief they were looking for. However, it goes without saying that the relief they get brings them down a road of other complications.

While there are many different types of depression, and it will require a diagnosis, the World Health Organization believes that 264 million people suffer from some type of depressive disorder. When combined with substance abuse disorder, it is known as co-occuring disorders.

When it comes to people with substance abuse disorder, the rates of depression are much higher. It isn’t just because they’re more likely to be prescribed a medication, either.

The reason that addiction is so much more dangerous when it exists with another mental illness is that the person is less likely to care about the consequences of their actions. If they feel a sense of despair while abusing substances, this is a situation to address right away. Here’s how to spot it.

Signs Of Depression And Addiction

If you believe you are suffering from both addiction and depression at the same time, you’re probably right. If you have felt depressed for a period longer than a few weeks and you’ve been abusing substances regularly, then you need to seek out treatment for both issues.

If you believe that a loved one may be suffering from substance abuse disorder and mental illness, there are things to look for. If somebody has a diagnosis for their depression or other mental illness, that’s a start. If not, are they behaving differently from their normal self?

Do they talk about suicide? Do they isolate themselves from friends or family? Do they talk about feeling worthless? If so, they may be suffering from depression.

Whether or not you believe they have a mental illness, look for signs of drug abuse. If alcohol is their substance of choice, it’s usually easier to spot since it’s so widely available and socially acceptable. However, if it’s a prescription medication or a street drug, it’s a little more challenging.

Are they constantly running out of money? Do they lie about their whereabouts? Do they seem like they aren’t always fully present in the room? Also look for withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Cold symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are very common as the person may never have enough of the substance to keep these symptoms away. Look for other signs like missing work or family obligations, especially if they are complaining about being sick. If these add up, then they could be in a dangerous situation.


The treatment for co-occurring disorders is known as dual diagnosis treatment. It is absolutely critical to get both of them treated, as they play into each other. This creates a very dangerous situation for the person struggling with these mental illnesses and for those around them.

There are different treatment options, but inpatient treatment is definitely appropriate for co-occurring disorders.

If you are looking for treatment for a loved one, keep reading up and have answers ready for them. Learn how to properly intervene, talk to them about treatment options, and offer support in any way that you can.

Dual diagnosis treatment is the best way to get you on the road to recovery, as it doesn’t just treat the drug abuse. Be sure to look for rehabilitation centers with mental illness treatment. If you treat substance abuse disorder without the underlying cause, then the chances of relapse are a lot higher.

Take The Road Back To Your Life

If you’re suffering from depression and addiction at the same time, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, if you make the decision to get treatment and get back to living your best life, you’ll be so glad that you did. Reach out for help from your support systems, find treatment, and learn about the different levels of care in addiction treatment so you know what to expect.