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Substance Use and Co-Occurring Depressive Disorders

woman discussing her co-occurring depressive disorders Around one-third of people who suffer from depression also have a Substance Use Disorder. The two disorders exacerbate one another. If a person is abusing substances like alcohol or opioids, it may be hard to tell if they are depressed. Side-effects of these drugs can mimic those of depression. However, treating both disorders, known as co-occurring depressive disorders, is necessary for a person’s long-term recovery.

At TruHealing Centers, our team has extensive experience treating co-occurring depressive disorders. Learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment program from our team today by calling 833.631.0525 or filling out our online form.

Types of Depression

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 17.3 million adults in the US had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. 80% of people with depression report difficulty with daily activities like work, school, or social life. While there are several types of depression, they all share common symptoms. Some typical signs of depression are:

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Low self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Thoughts of suicide


Major depression disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences the majority of the above symptoms most days for two weeks or longer. Around 6.7% of US adults per year have at least one major depressive episode.


Persistent Depressive Disorder is a less severe but chronic form of major depression. It is usually diagnosed if symptoms are less intense but have been present for at least two years. Typically, people diagnosed with Major Depression have a mood baseline when they’re not experiencing depression. However, people diagnosed with PDD often cannot remember what it was like to feel “normal.”


People with Bipolar Disorder have periods of extreme highs and lows. When they are in a low period, they experience the symptoms of major depression. About 4.4% of people will experience Bipolar Disorder during their lifetime.


SAD is a major depression that is influenced by the seasons. It most often occurs during the fall and winter months, but occasionally is brought on by spring and summer. About 5% of the US population will experience SAD during a given year.


Psychotic Depression entails experiencing depression along with “psychotic” symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. In one study of about 2,500 people seeking treatment for depression, 5.3% had psychotic symptoms.


Postpartum Depression takes place in the weeks and months after giving birth. 1 in 7 people may experience this form of depression in the year after giving birth.


People who have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder experience symptoms of depression beyond typical premenstrual syndrome (PMS) at the start of their period.


A person with Atypical Depression has a pattern of depressive symptoms, but is able to feel temporary relief by positive experiences. Atypical Depression tends to have an earlier onset than Major Depression.


In the year 2012, 2.7 million people over 18 in the US had a co-occurrence of depression and Substance Use Disorder. Around 16.5% of those with a major depressive disorder have an Alcohol Use Disorder. About 18% have a drug use disorder. People dealing with feelings of hopelessness, low self-worth, or other symptoms of depression may turn to substances for relief. However, substances make the depressive episodes more severe, initiating a vicious cycle. People suffering from depression without a co-occurring Substance Use Disorder have about a 10% lifetime suicide risk. With and a co-occurring Substance Use Disorder, that risk increases to 25%.

How Does Substance Use Disorder Affect Depression?

People with Substance Use Disorder are more likely to have depression and vice versa. People may drink or use drugs in an attempt to alleviate their depression, but chronic abuse of substances worsens depression. In addition, no matter what the substance, withdrawal will often mimic symptoms of depression.


As with any co-occurring mental health disorder, it is imperative to treat both. Without treating them together, they will continue to exacerbate one another and both will worsen. According to SAMHSA, treatment for a mental health disorder can reduce the risk of relapse of a Substance Use Disorder. Treatment for a Substance Use Disorder can help people manage the symptoms of a mental health disorder.

There is Help at TruHealing Centers

If you are suffering from addiction and co-occurring depression, there is hope. At TruHealing Centers across the country, we offer treatment for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. We will design a treatment plan specifically for you, including multiple types of therapy, aftercare planning, support groups, and more. At every one of our treatment centers, we provide you with the tools you need to build towards long-term recovery. Learn more when you reach out to our team today by calling 833.631.0525 or completing our online form.


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