Depression: A Complex Comorbidity, Understanding Addiction and Depression

Overcoming Depression: Effective Treatments

Learn about therapies and techniques to help manage symptoms and improve well-being.

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Understanding Depression

Many of us will experience times in our lives when we feel bad about ourselves, sad, and demotivated, sometimes for long periods of time. Unlike the common fluctuations in mood and short-lived disturbances in response to the challenges of everyday life, depression is a psychiatric disorder that can cause great suffering and poor functioning. Depression can lead to suicide. Approximately 280 million people in the world have depression and over 700,000 people die due to suicide every year.

Depression is an illness caused by an interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors. Those who have experienced adversity in their lives such as unemployment, bereavement, and trauma, are more likely to develop depression. Depression related to such life events can lead to further stress and dysfunction which compounds the depression itself.

Common Symptoms Of Depression

Depressive episodes are categorised as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number and severity of symptoms experienced and the impact of these symptoms on functioning. 

During an episode of depression, someone might experience sadness, irritability, emptiness, and/or a loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities. Other symptoms might be poor concentration, feelings of low self-worth, a sense of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, chronic pain, and fatigue.

Such symptoms can lead to difficulty with relationships, parenting, socializing, education, work, and other areas of life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the patterns of mood disorders include:

  • single episode depressive disorder — a first and only episode;
  • recurrent depressive disorder — a history of at least two depressive episodes; and
  • bipolar disorder — depressive episodes alternate with periods of manic symptoms, which include euphoria or irritability, increased activity or energy, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, increased self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, and impulsive behaviour.  
Addiction and Depression

Depression and Addiction Statistics

Mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorders, are the most common psychiatric comorbidities among those with substance use disorders. Depression in an alcohol-dependent person has been reported to not only lower the resolve to resist alcohol use but may also lead to

the use of alcohol to relieve depression-related symptoms. 

Research has shown that the prevalence of depression among those with addiction is high at 63.8% but with the right treatment, six months after detoxification and completion of rehabilitation, the prevalence of depression can reduce to 30.2%. It has also been shown that those suffering from depression have approximately a 10% lifetime suicide risk. When combined with substance abuse, the suicide risk rises to about 25%.

Relationship Between Depression and Addiction

The prevalence of co-occurring depression and addiction has been shown in a number of studies.

Depression in someone struggling with alcoholism has been reported to not only reduce the commitment to stop alcohol misuse but may also lead to further use of alcohol to relieve the symptoms of depression. Understanding the significance of the cooccurrence of depression and alcoholism helps explain why many relapses after detox and treatment. 

It is thought that the association between substance use disorders and major depression is due to two factors: 

  • both disorders having common underlying genetic and environmental factors that jointly increase the risk of both disorders
  • both disorders having a causal effect on each disorder increasing the risk of developing both disorders

Depression and Phone Addiction

Phone addiction is a common problem, and the positive correlation between phone addiction and depression is alarming. To reduce negative symptoms associated with depression many will consume dopamine-releasing content via their phone. The focus on symptoms of depression can be temporarily diverted by scrolling through the internet or social media feeds. The short-term relief from phone use can lead to more time spent on phones to experience the same desired effects, potentially leading to an addiction.

Addiction to Weed and Depression

Some research suggests that weed smokers are diagnosed with depression more often than non-smokers, particularly regular or heavy weed smokers, and those who have substance use disorders. Weed use has also been linked to other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis. 

Depression and Sex Addiction

Someone struggling with sex addiction may have started to act out sexually to medicate the symptoms of depression, or have developed depression as a result of addictive acting out. Those struggling with sex addiction may experience intense shame which can prevent them from reaching out for help and lead to isolation, further compounding the symptoms of depression.

Opiate Addiction and Depression

Depression commonly co-occurs with chronic pain, the latter often treated with opiods. Opioid-related depression is associated with a longer duration of use. Substance use disorders are common among those who misuse opioids. 

How to Help Someone With Drug Addiction and Depression

Substance use disorders and depression are the cause of significant distress and disruption for affected individuals and their families. Many will feel a sense of hopelessness having tried what they think is everything to help their loved one. 

The family of someone recovering from addiction plays a vital role in their treatment and long-term recovery from depression and addiction when supported by a treatment centre. As such, the best way to help someone you love is to assist them in accessing the professional support they need from an addiction treatment centre

At Castle Craig, our model of treatment addresses the underlying psychological causes of depression and addiction through a combination of specialised and complementary therapies that explore each person’s specific diagnosis and mental health issues. We also provide support for you as a family member. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder and might also have a mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, OCD, or PTSD, please contact our admissions team who can explain our programme of recovery for co-occurring disorders. 

Common Therapy Types Used for Depression and Addiction

Because the symptoms of depression and addiction can be both physical and psychological, addressing co-occurring disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach. 

Castle Craig’s model of treatment addresses the underlying psychological causes of depression and substance use disorder through a combination of specialised talking and complementary therapies.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a personalised ‘talking therapy’ that aims to change negative thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that may be a block to finding recovery from depression and addiction. CBT helps clients identify triggers that could lead to relapse, and change responses to them. 

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) 

DBT was developed to treat the symptoms of borderline personality disorder and emotional regulation disorder such as suicidal ideation and depression. DBT consists of four elements — core mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) 

EMDR is an individual therapy that views the distressing symptoms of PTSD as a result of memories being inadequately processed. EMDR therapy focuses directly on these memories to change the way they are stored in the brain through eye movements, thus reducing and eliminating problematic symptoms. 

Compassion & Respect

Every single person who walks through our doors matters.

Trauma (PTSD)

Trauma-informed therapy treats addictions and associated mental health conditions such as trauma concurrently. There are various therapies and techniques used to help treat the symptoms of trauma. These may include compassionate and respectful one-to-one therapy, CBT, 12 Steps, complementary therapies, and equine therapy.

Grief counselling 

Grief counselling is a necessary part of addiction recovery as unresolved grief can lead to relapse and depression. To experience long-term freedom from depression and addiction, it is important to go through the natural process of grieving which grief counselling supports in a safe environment. At Castle Craig, we see grief resolution as a key part of finding freedom from addiction and experiencing sustained sobriety. 

How Do Co-Occurring Disorders Affect Treatment?

Integrated Treatment is a research-proven model of treatment for people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. Individuals receive treatment for depression and addiction simultaneously from one team with one consistent message about treatment and recovery. 

Treating both disorders concurrently is often effective for co-occurring disorders because of the ways these conditions interact with each other. If one of the disorders is left untreated, it can affect progress in treating the other disorder. Additionally, the two conditions may be related to each other in complex ways, so treating them simultaneously offers the person the best opportunity to learn how to best manage their co-occurring disorders on a daily basis.

Finding the Right Rehab for Co-Occurring Depression and Substance Use Disorder

Finding the right treatment centre and programme for you can mean the difference between living a life free from addiction and frequent relapse. There is a wide variety of addiction treatment programmes and services that can offer help with depression and addiction. Some treat the disorders concurrently, others separately.

At Castle Craig, our treatment for co-occurring disorders is research-informed and highly effective at treating the complex condition of dual diagnosis. We have a team of leading consultant psychiatrists, expert addiction doctors, experienced nurses and qualified therapists to tackle all aspects of addiction. 

Medicating Depression

Alongside psychotherapy, antidepressants may be a key part of treating depression. The main aim of treatment with antidepressants is to relieve the symptoms of severe depression and prevent them from coming back. They are prescribed to stabilise emotions so clients are mentally available for individual therapy and can function well in everyday life. There are various medications for the treatment of depression, the most common of which are tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and selective serotonin noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Your doctor or overseeing clinician can discuss all medication options with you. 

Assessment and Diagnosis 

An addiction assessment is essential for making a diagnosis, helping you understand your condition and the best treatment options for you. Assessment and diagnosis form the basis of a personalised treatment plan.

If you think you might be struggling with an addiction but are unsure, or you don’t know what type of treatment is best suited to your needs, a complimentary, confidential, and obligation-free assessment at Castle Craig with one of our experts is a helpful first step.

During your assessment, we will discuss your history of substance abuse and depression, current presenting struggles, if you have sought treatment before, your family history, and your personal life circumstances. Our medical caregivers will look to identify risk which includes triggers, signs and symptoms of addiction, and the present risk. During your assessment, you can expect to be treated with care, respect and compassion. Feel free to call our team to discuss a free assessment. 

Starting the Path to Recovery

If you are struggling with addiction and/or depression we are here to help. Contact us for advice from one of our specialists. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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How does depression cause addiction?

Depression can increase the risk of addiction as substance abuse is a way to self-medicate the symptoms of depression. In turn, mood-altering substances can make symptoms of depression more severe, creating a cycle of addiction. 

Is addiction to depression a thing?

You cannot become addicted to depression. Addiction is a psychological and behavioural illness characterised by the compulsive seeking and using of a substance or continued engagement in a certain behaviours, despite negative consequences.

What comes first depression or substance abuse?

There is no definitive answer as the development of depression and addiction depends on personal circumstances, medical history, predisposition towards depression and addiction, and family history. Each case is different. As such, both depression and substance abuse must be treated concurrently by experienced care teams. 

How does addiction affect mental health?

The initial wanted effects of substances tend to be short-lived. Longer term use of mood-altering substances causes changes to the brain that can lead to the development of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, low mood, and/or impulse-control disorders.

Experts You Can Trust

With a wealth of knowledge and services to help you regain control of your life, request a call-back from one of our professionals today. The choice you make today could change your life forever.

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