Depression and Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and addiction, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Harmony Ridge is here to help you on your journey to healing and a brighter future.


Suffering from one disorder is hard enough, but suffering from two disorders can seem insufferable. This is especially true when you are suffering from two different types of disorders, such as addiction and depression. This is because you have to deal with the triggers and symptoms of both.

When you are suffering from two different types of disorders simultaneously, they are called co-occurring disorders, or a dual diagnosis. When it comes to the co-occurring disorder combination of addiction and depression, depression often comes first. This is because mental illness is often the catalyst that leads to addiction.

Having a co-occurring disorder does not have to take a toll on your life. To learn how to effectively manage and treat addiction and depression, you must first understand the symptoms and effects of these disorders both individually and together. You must also understand the treatment options for a dual diagnosis of addiction and depression.

When suffering from a co-occurring disorder of addiction and depression, attending treatment for a dual diagnosis program is vital to your recovery.

What is Depression?


Depression is a mood disorder and mental illness that is characterized by extreme feelings of sadness and a loss of interest for things that you once enjoyed. When you are suffering from depression, it will have negative effects on how you think, feel, and behave. Over time, depression can lead to physical illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. When severe enough, depression can even lead to suicide.

Triggers of Depression


Because of the severe negative effects that depression can have on your body and psyche, it’s important to know the things that can trigger depression. Depression can be triggered in anyone, even people of means that seem to live pleasant lives.

Negative Life Changes

One trigger of depression is major life changes. Life changes can be positive or negative. Regardless, the stress that they cause can become so overwhelming that it triggers depression.

One negative life change that could trigger depression is a change in finances such as developing bankruptcy or debt. These trigger depression because of the stress that they cause in your life. Financial struggles can even affect your physical health, which can then trigger depression due to the inability to eat well or pay for things that help you take care of yourself.

Negative changes in the status of your relationships with your significant other, family members, or friends can also trigger depression. This is because changes in relationships can lead to emotional, mental, and physical distress. Examples of relationship changes that can trigger depression are divorce or a breakup.

Life events that cause sadness, such as the death of a loved one, are easy triggers of depression. Physical changes and stress brought on by a severe illness like cancer can also trigger depression.

Positive Life Changes

Even positive life events can cause depression. For example, a new job, a move, or graduation are all positive life changes that can trigger depression. This, once again, is because of the stress that these changes can cause you.

Giving birth to a child can cause chemical and hormonal changes in the female body, which can trigger postpartum depression. The outward physical changes and the stress of taking care of a newborn child only add to the negative effects that postpartum depression can have on a woman.


One of the most common triggers of depression is a persistent feeling of loneliness. This is because humans are social creatures. Therefore, when someone feels that they’re alone in life and no one cares about them, it can lead to severe depression.

Life events that can cause someone to start to feel lonely include having family or friends move away and moving away by yourself to a new place. Even when a person is surrounded by others all the time, if he or she does not feel a close bond with anyone around or feels excluded or ostracized for whatever reason, it can cause that individual to feel lonely and depressed.

Ultimately, any life event or change that brings about stress or feelings of sadness or loneliness can trigger depression in someone. When one or more triggers of depression happen to someone who has a biological predisposition or personality type that lends itself to the development of depression, it creates the perfect storm for depression to thrive.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression


When a person is suffering from depression, he or she can experience a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Although people without depression can feel sad or lonely at points in their lives, people with depression have these symptoms nearly every day for months or years on end.

Signs of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Loss of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed
  • Sleeping too little, or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Reduced appetite or weight loss
  • Increase in weight or cravings for food
  • Anxiety

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fixation on past failures or blaming oneself for everything negative going on in your life
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unexplained physical problems such as heart pain, back pain, or headaches

What is Addiction?


Addiction is the inability to stop abusing substances. Addiction often starts with a dependency on drugs. Drug dependency occurs when a person needs to take drugs to function or else they will experience withdrawal symptoms. When drug dependency turns into addiction, people will do anything to continue their abuse, including lying, cheating, or harming themselves or others.

Triggers of Addiction

Like with depression, there are multiple physiological and environmental triggers of addiction. The factors that trigger your addiction may vary depending on your personality type and substance use history.

Parties and Celebrations

Attending parties or celebratory events can trigger your addiction since they often include alcohol and substance use.


Stress often triggers addiction. Drinking alcohol or using substances is a way to drown out and cope with your stress. In fact, negative emotions in general trigger addiction. This is one of the key reasons why mental illness is a catalyst for addiction.

When someone feels sad or angry about something, he or she may want to cope by drinking or using substances. People dealing with negative emotions and addiction may also want to dwell in their negativity and subconsciously punish themselves by drinking and abusing substances.

Chronic Fatigue

Being chronically fatigued makes you not think or function at your best, and it’s also bad for your health. When you are unhealthy and not functioning at your best, you are more prone to pick up addictive habits.

Romantic Relationships

Romantic relationships bring about a flood of emotions that a person in early recovery may not be able to handle yet. As a result, individuals may easily relapse when entering a romantic relationship within their first year of recovery.

Professional Success

Believe it or not, professional success can trigger addiction. This is partly because of the desire it can give you to celebrate your new accomplishment. Professional success can also trigger addiction because of the new work events and parties it may bring. While you may find it important to fit in with your work peers, it’s not worth triggering your addiction.

Professional success can also make you feel as if you have overcome addiction since you’ve reached a new place in your life and have reached a new goal. Do not let this overconfidence fool you into thinking that you are above your addiction. Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that will occur regardless of your professional status or lack thereof.

Spending Time With People Who Misuse Substances

Hanging out in social circles with people who use substances is a clear trigger for addiction. This is because the peer pressure to drink and do drugs that comes from being around your old friends is too great. That’s why you must cut out any friends who you used to use substances with when you become sober.


When you are too idle for too long, you make poor decisions. For an addict, these poor decisions can lead to irresponsible behavior. That’s why you need to maintain a structured schedule and remain positive when you are suffering from an addiction.


Gambling is an addictive behavior pattern. As such, it’s an activity that you should stay away from while in recovery. Otherwise, you may fall into other addictive behavior patterns such as drinking and abusing substances.


Loneliness also leads to addiction since it causes people to dwell in their sorrow or loneliness by taking on poor habits such as drinking or abusing substances. Loneliness can especially be a problem for a person that is in recovery, as being alone too long with negative thoughts can trigger addiction.

Symptoms of Addiction


Symptoms of addiction can be social, physical, or psychological. The symptoms you get from your addiction can vary depending on your substance use history.

Symptoms of addiction include:

  • An inability to stop using
  • Risky behavior
  • Lying, cheating, and stealing to get more substances
  • Showing prescriptions at different pharmacies or clinics to get a larger than normal supply of prescription drugs
  • Acquiring legal issues due to your addiction
  • Using all your money to buy substances
  • Appetite changes
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in appearance
  • Increased tolerance

Co-Occurring Disorders: Addiction and Depression


As we mentioned earlier, depression is often a catalyst that leads to addiction. This is because people start to drink and abuse substances to cope with their negative emotions, emptiness, and feelings of loneliness.

As continued substance abuse turns into a full-fledged addiction, it can make depression worse. The worsening depression can then, in turn, make the addiction worse. Thus, addiction and depression together become a catch-22 storm that can lead to you ruining your life and health if not treated.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction and Depression


To treat addiction and depression, you must receive addiction treatment that is specifically made for co-occurring disorders at a rehab facility. Addiction treatment for co-occurring disorders usually includes detox and multiple forms of different addiction treatment and therapy.

Individual therapy is the primary therapy used in treating addiction and depression. This comes in a variety of different forms, but one of the most popular forms is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Other types of therapy used when treating co-occurring disorders include family therapy and group therapyMedication is likely necessary to treat addiction and depression. Not only will you likely need medication to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms during detox, but you also may need medication to help treat your depression.

Your treatment for addiction and depression should happen simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment can be in the form of a residential treatment program, a partial hospitalization program, or an intensive outpatient program.

Residential treatment programs are treatment programs that require the patients to live in the facility that they are attending rehab. Partial hospitalization programs are programs that require patients to receive treatment at a rehab facility with medical resources during the day. The benefit of attending partial hospitalization programs though is that you get to go home at night. Intensive outpatient programs are treatment programs that occur a few hours a day, three to five days a week. During intensive outpatient programs, you also get to spend nights at your own home.

Harmony Ridge Recovery is Here to Help You


Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is an addiction treatment center based in West Virginia and the mid-Ohio Valley. At Harmony Ridge, we provide addiction treatment programs and therapy services that can help treat your addiction and depression. We also provide a wide variety of other addiction treatment programs that can help you overcome your addiction to a wide variety of substances.

To learn more about Harmony Ridge, contact us over the phone or through our website.


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