Depression & Addiction


What is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness that affects over 17 million adults in America. Although it’s more commonly seen in women, major depressive disorder affects males, too. Depression is most commonly portrayed and is known as a disorder that causes:

  • Sadness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Indifference towards people and things
  • Difficulty keeping up with daily tasks or schedules
  • Losing general control of life


But there are different kinds of depression, such as high-functional depression, where a person might not manifest these exact symptoms. Major depression, seasonal depression, depressive psychosis are all different diagnoses with different symptoms. The only way to truly know if one is suffering from it is by being informed and asking for help from professionals. One of the biggest obstacles for mental health treatment is that most people don’t really understand or discuss mental disorders such as depression. It’s important to know how depression works and how depression and addiction can be related. The first thing to keep in mind is that feeling sad or grieving is not necessarily depression. Depression doesn’t just “make people sad”. It’s true that grief is usually temporary and is often triggered by negative experiences. Some of these experiences might include the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. But depressive disorders aren’t so simple to deal with and can cause symptoms that go from recurring sadness to even suicidal thoughts

Sadness Vs. Clinical Depression

There are key differences between general feelings of sadness and clinical depression that can help distinguish the two.

First, the duration of the symptoms linked to depression should be analyzed. According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs of grief brought on by negative experience shouldn’t be cause for concern if it lasts about two weeks. On the contrary: it is a healthy part of processing experiences of loss or change. It shows that a person is reacting naturally to the situation. However, if this sadness lingers on after that period, for much longer, it could be a possible sign of depression. 

Another red flag to worry about if noticed are changes in self-esteem. Sadness derived from grief doesn’t often affect one’s self-esteem or sense of self or value. But common effects of depression are feelings of worthlessness or even self-loathing. This is what can actually aggravate the scenario. That’s mainly due to the fact that it can consequently lower motivation and worsen feelings of purposelessness. These emotions are common to episodes of chronic depression. This second characteristic is even more important to watch out for, as it can become quite severe depending on the person.

Depression in Maryland

The most recent data on depression in Maryland is from 2018, and it shows that the state is below the national average for major depressive episodes. However, the numbers reported are still quite alarming.

30% of adults in Maryland reported suffering from severe depression. Similarly shocking is the fact that about 16% of adults reported having suicidal thoughts nearly every day. But depression doesn’t just happen during adulthood. It can also manifest itself even at early ages: 11% of youths in Maryland suffered from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in 2018, and 85% of these cases were severe.

The worst part is that 55.6% of youths that suffered from MDE did not receive treatment for it, putting them at risk of turning to substance abuse soon or in the future.

Depression and Addiction: A Common Link

Most people fail to grasp addiction and how it works, and the taboo surrounding the subject disrupts society from further comprehending addicts and their struggle. An addiction is a substance use brain disorder, diagnosed by a health practitioner, and as such, it requires proper treatment in order for a user to quit their habits.

As it would be with any illness, not finishing a chosen program or not following all instructions and recommendations can influence its efficiency. Addiction can truly rearrange how your brain works as it starts damaging parts of it responsible for decision making, judgment, behavior, psychological function, self-control, and chemical and hormonal balance.

There are many ways and reasons why someone could be abusing or excessively using any substances. But one of the health factors that can lead one to do it is mental illness. In this case, either the symptoms of the mental illness might bring someone to drink or use drugs, or early exposure to such substances might trigger the development of an underlying mental disorder.

This is not rare or uncommon: about 6 in every 10 drug addicts in the U.S. said they also suffered from a substance use disorder and a psychiatric disorder, such as depression and addiction to drugs. In fact, those diagnosed with depression are more prone to drug use than those who aren’t. 

Both disorders are affected by some of the same factors, which can also explain why they can be triggered at the same time. One of the things that can increase someone’s chances of developing either one of these illnesses is family history and genetics.

Nonetheless, having these genes doesn’t mean a person will automatically develop said disorders, which brings us to our second risk group: people in contact with negative environmental factors. Trauma and stress can cause reactions and effects that might lead to the development of these disorders.

Finally, neurological and chemical imbalances also directly affect these disorders, what symptoms they bring on, how intense they are, and many other characteristics.

These cases of what we call co-occurring disorders in Maryland have been reported even among teenagers. The Berkeley and Eleanor Mann Residential Treatment Center, for instance, stated that a third of the 12- to 21-year-old patients they treat suffer from mental health disorders and addiction simultaneously.

As for adults and substance use disorders, opioid addiction in Maryland has gotten worse in the last few years because of drugs such as fentanyl, and reports of intoxication and overdose have been increasing among people of all ages. Additionally, the number of cocaine-related deaths in Maryland spiked in 2015 and continue to go up. 

Is There Treatment For Depression and Addiction?

Depression and addiction can both be treated, and because they co-occur so often, there are even treatment settings designed for people suffering from both. This is called dual-diagnosis treatment.

There are different schools of thought on how co-occurring disorders can be treated, and the best way to know which option you should go with is by having an assessment made, which is common procedure at rehab clinics. Dual-diagnosis treatment can happen sequentially (treat one disorder at a time) or parallelly (treat both disorders at the same time), and it is possible to have the same team treat both disorders or different teams for each.

The truth of the matter is that both depression and addiction go hand in hand more often than not. It is as if they feed off of each other. It is known that one contributes to the development of the other, but the order in which they manifest themselves vary. Since some of the symptoms of depression and addiction are the same, for instance, without a proper diagnosis of a mental disorder prior to substance abuse, tracing a timeline can be difficult. 

Mental and substance use disorders can both be treated in programs with different service settings. First, there is inpatient/residential treatment, with 24-hour monitoring of medical staff, requiring patients to stay in the facilities all throughout the program. These are more commonly recommended for severe cases, especially if withdrawal symptoms become intense. However, in order to qualify for this kind of program, there are diagnostic criteria to be met. 

For cases where inpatient treatment is not needed, there is another alternative, called outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment for depression and/or addiction allows the patient to go home every day, with no need for overnight stays.

Patients with moderate to mild symptoms often enroll in this kind of program. What’s best is that there are different outpatient service settings. Partial hospitalization, for instance, requires almost daily visits and is almost as intensive as inpatient treatment for it. Intensive outpatient programs, on the other hand, are comprised of shorter sessions, and less demanding visits. It will all depend on affordability and what’s best medically for the patient.

Get Help Right Now at The Freedom Center

Dealing with both depression and addiction to substances can be a tough struggle, and it is a lifelong process with many ups and downs. Although it is not a linear journey to go through, with the right treatment, it is easier to prevent major setbacks or relapses. We at The Freedom Center can help make the process easier by providing our best tools and a team prepared to help through every step of the way.

Our programs were designed to work on every aspect of a patient’s life as they transition into sobriety. From holistic treatments to legal aid and case management, we will give you all the tools needed so that you can take ahold of your life and become more independent as you improve. Dual-diagnosis treatment plans are available at our facilities as well. If you’d like more information about our program options, visit our website and contact us today. We can answer any questions you may have and help you make one of the best decisions of your life.

Break Free From Addiction

At our substance abuse treatment center in Maryland, we do our best to meet each individual where they’re at. Each person comes with a different mold - a different struggle. The best way we can help them is to offer them care that is unique to their own situation; there is no one-size-fits-all method to substance abuse treatment. This is why individualized care is so important to us. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more, you can contact us here.
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