Addiction and Depression

Addiction and Depression

alcohol and addiction lifeworks dubai
Addiction and Depression

By Dana Hinders

Addiction and depression often go hand in hand. Depression may be the reason an addict begins using drugs or alcohol. Or, it may develop as the addiction progresses

Defining Depression

Depression is a terrible feeling. Doctors define depression as feeling down or "blue," on more days than not, for at least two weeks. This is different from feeling stressed out or sad about something. Depression often seems to happen without a good reason. The person may feel sad without knowing exactly why. Activities that would normally cheer him/her up aren't fun anymore. Even getting out of bed can be difficult.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day; children and teens may be irritable instead.
  • Losing pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Gaining or losing a noticeable amount of weight
  • Having trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired nearly every day
  • Feeling worthless or guilty without a good reason
  • Having trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Moving or speaking more slowly than normal
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death
  • Why might alcohol problems and depression occur together?

    Alcohol can briefly produce a pleasant and relaxed state of the mind. However, alcohol problems and depression commonly occur together. There are several reasons for this.

  • 1. Both alcohol problems and depression are extremely common. They may occur together completely independently.
  • 2. People with depression sometimes use alcohol as a form of self-medication, for example either in an attempt to cheer themselves up, or sometimes to help them sleep. Although in small quantities alcohol can briefly lift mood, if used to try to cope with a depressive illness, problems arise. Tolerance to the effects of alcohol can lead to individuals needing it in larger quantities to have an effect.
  • 3. Alcohol in large quantities, whether taken to treat a depression or not, produces a depressant effect on people's mood.
  • Links with brain function

    Over the last decade new research has shed light on the way alcohol affects the brain, and in the ways in which the brain is affected in depression.

    It is now known that some of the systems that are involved in producing the symptoms of low mood, anxiety, poor sleep and reduced appetite in depression are also affected by alcohol. This is one explanation of why alcohol can cause depression.

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