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The cycle of depression and addiction

Understanding Depression and Addiction 

 May is National Mental Health Awareness month. Mental health awareness is vital because the more people familiarize themselves with mental disorders, the more diagnoses are made.

If people receive proper treatment for conditions like generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD early on, they are less likely to develop substance disorders and addictions later in life.  

Mental health is the general well-being of human emotions, thoughts, feelings, and social health. These aspects directly affect how we interact with our environment and handle life. When one is well equipped for life’s challenges, that is an indicator of good mental health. Biological factors like brain chemistry impact mental health, but outside factors, like trauma and abuse, can influence these things.  

The key to making sure people get the help they need early in life is to de-stigmatize mental health therapies. Often, issues like anxiety and depression get overlooked by parents because they think by acknowledging the issue, it is making their child “weak” or “different”. In reality, by getting a child or teen the help they need early on, they are setting them up for success in adulthood and making them less likely to seek out drugs. 

Stress has also been linked to an increased risk of mental health issues. The dopamine delivery pathways can become disturbed by the chemicals created by stress. Children who experienced long-term stress early in life are more likely to develop depression and substance abuse issues. 

Depression and Addiction


Adults often deny their need for mental health support. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are all serious matters that have practical treatments. With depression, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms so you’re ready to respond. Depression is described as the following: “The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.”

It can be easy to want to write emotions off as though they are an inconvenience to our lives, but emotions mean something. Anger is an emotion of justice and values. Jealousy, in the right context, is an emotion of love. Fear and anxiety are emotions that can tell us to be careful. It is always important to listen to what our emotions say.

Often depression is a response to loss. The emotion helps us to recognize that there was something very important that is now gone. This loss can be due to the physical loss of a loved one, but it can be the loss of good parenting, or loss of confidence. Any type of loss can lead to depression and the better we are equipped to identify this type of loss, the better prepared we can be to take care of our own mental health.

However, many individuals never deal with their feelings which can lead to developing substance use disorders (SUD). Surveys from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that half of those who will experience mental illness will also experience a substance disorder. One in four individuals with a severe mental illness (usually defined as any disorder that causes severe impairment) also has SUD.  

Does Depression Cause Addiction?


It is not often clear whether mental disorders or substance use comes first. If someone is already at risk for mental health problems, substance use can cause these issues to surface. Opioids, used even non-abusively, have a solid correlation to depression. Excessive use of marijuana has been linked to an increased risk for schizophrenia. Many people are vulnerable to SUDs because of genetic vulnerability.  

People with substance abuse disorders often knowingly or unknowingly self-medicate. Feelings of fear and hopelessness can interfere with everyday life, motivating you to find ways to cope, like alcohol or pills. It can start small. Let’s say you had a back injury months ago, and your doctor prescribed you Percocet to use when you need it. Eventually, you realize the pain is minimal, but you take a pill when you had an extra stressful day at work. This can lead to a severe abuse problem that was unintentional and was caused by self-medication.  

Alcohol is the most abused substance. It is easy to use alcohol to unwind at the end of the day, but if the trend continues, more and more alcohol is required to have that effect. Using alcohol to regulate stress is never wise. When dealing with undesirable feelings and anxiety, it is always wise to seek counseling. Therapy has been proven to provide one with coping skills for stress, increased happiness levels, and improved self-worth.  

At 8 Oaks, we want to help walk alongside those who are hurting to help them recover and rediscover meaning in life. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call us at 931-903-2500 or visit us at


About Us

8 Oaks Recovery is a Christ-centered addiction recovery program located in Wayne County, TN. We offer a unique treatment approach blending spiritual and clinical work. We work with adult males ages 18-65 years old.

Licensing & Accreditation

The 8 Oaks is licensed by the State of Tennessee and accredited by The Joint Commission, the national leader in healthcare organization accreditation.


140 Tennessee Circle
Westpoint, Tennessee  38486

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