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While both have unique characteristics, there is a clear connection between depression and addiction. Both depression and addiction are listed, respectively, in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) as brain disorders. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry estimates one in three adults who abuse drugs and/ or alcohol suffer from depression. Either mental disorder, if left untreated can lead to dangerous, if not life threatening, consequences. The additional challenge an individual faces when he or she struggles with both addiction and depression is that the treatment of one disorder can intensify the symptoms of the other. There are, however, many programs available that are designed to provide the specific support needed for an individual struggling with both depression and addiction. 


Depression is defined as a serious mental health disorder that affects how one feels, the way in which one thinks, as well as the way an individual acts. Depression typically manifests as severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness and low energy. Depression is highly common. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly ten percent of Americans suffer from depression. Research has shown there is a genetic factor in the development of depression. An individual who has a family history of depression is more susceptible to developing depression in his or her life. 


Addiction is characterized as habitual engagement in the use of drugs and/ or alcohol despite the negative consequences. An individual that struggles with addiction will put his or her need for satisfying a drug craving above all else in his or her life. Therefore, addiction has the propensity to affect every aspect of an individual’s life. Additionally, with the habitual abuse of drugs and/ or alcohol a person’s body will become accustomed to functioning with the substance present. When the abused substance is removed from one’s system he or she will experience adverse withdrawal symptoms. There are many contributing factors that can indicate why an individual may have developed an addiction. 

For example, addiction in one’s family history can increase an individual’s potential for developing his or her own addiction problem. 

The Connection

It is not uncommon for an individual who struggles with depression to attempt to self medicate through the use and abuse of drugs and/ or alcohol. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon that an individual struggling with substance abuse develop depression. An individual who experiences depression and addiction has what is known as a dual diagnosis. Regardless of which mental disorder initially manifested, depression and addiction can feed off of each other, creating a dangerous cyclical pattern for an individual. There are genetic factors (i.e. presence of mental disorder in one’s family health history) that play a role in an individual’s predisposition for both the development of addiction as well as the development of depression.


It is important that any person in need of treatment make sure to seek a program equipped to work with individuals struggling with a dual diagnosis. Some individuals with depression who undergo treatment for substance abuse may experience elevated symptoms of depression. A dual diagnosis treatment program will assure the best opportunity for the individual to obtain ample support and a tailored treatment plan that considers all aspects with which the individual suffers. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.