Home > About Addictions > Mental Health and Addictions

Mental Health and Addictions

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 8 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
Mental Health Addiction Suffers Mood

Mental health disorders such as depression and addictions have an interesting relationship in that either can underpin the other. For a majority of people, their mental health suffers when they deal with an addiction. Conversely, mental health disorders such as depression are thought to be a risk factor that makes a person more susceptible to an addiction.

Overcoming Both Health Disorders

When a person is diagnosed with both – known as co-morbid – it can be particularly difficult to overcome the two problems. Each can worsen the other and in this way, they interact and make individualized treatment very important.

Misuse of Drugs and Alcohol

With common substances that are abused, the longer the user is abusing the drugs, the higher the likelihood of adverse mental effects from the substance. With alcohol, for instance, excessive use is known to affect cognitive functioning. It is estimated that up to a quarter of abusers suffer from major psychiatric disturbances.

Withdrawal Symptoms

While psychiatric symptoms can worsen when an addict is in the withdrawal phase, these symptoms will usually decline. The longer an addict abstains from the harmful substance, the better he or she can regain some of their mental health.

Increased Risks

In comparison with those in the general population, people addicted to drugs are approximately twice as likely to also be diagnosed with a mood or anxiety illness. As mentioned above with it being a two-way street, those with a mood or anxiety disorder are twice as likely to suffer from an addiction.

Drug abuse can trigger the symptoms of a mood disorder. What this means is that the symptoms of drug abuse can ‘bring out’ the symptoms of a mood disorder.

As one example, studies suggest that heavy marijuana use can trigger symptoms of psychosis. A person who suffers from a mental health disorder such as bipolar disorder might turn to alcohol or drugs to cope. In this way, the mood disorder can lead to addiction.

Eating Disorders

Mental health disorders such as depression are statistically more prevalent in those who have later gone on to develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. The physical effects of eating disorders can significantly worsen mental health symptoms, making it challenging for successful treatment outcomes.

One positive finding has been that some antidepressant treatments can stimulate appetite and also treat the symptoms of depression. This has been important in treating anorexia nervosa in particular.

Genetics and Co-morbid Disorders

Researchers generally agree that there is evidence to support our genes being an underlying factor that can make us more susceptible to an addiction and another mental health disorder. There is, however, still much we do not know about the specific genes involved and how we can identify those at risk in the general population.

Treating Mental Health and Addictions

Ongoing research continues into how mental health disorders can be a risk factor for addictions and also how the two intertwine when co-morbid. Medications can sometimes address symptoms of both.

Where two or more medications are used, it can be difficult to predict exactly how the two will react together for the patient. Usually counselling will be a key part of any treatment program where addiction is present along with another mental health disorder. The key is to get treatment early on to help bring relief to the sufferer and prevent symptoms from worsening or leading to another mental health disorder.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Nisy - Your Question:
Is there an injection you can get to stop you from taking alcohol.

Our Response:
There are various pills that can help you with an alcohol addiction, but not an injection. You would have to speak to your GP regarding this.
BeatingAddictions - 9-Feb-18 @ 12:20 PM
Is there an injection you can get to stop you from taking alcohol.
Nisy - 8-Feb-18 @ 9:19 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Hannah
    Re: Recognising Alcohol Addiciton
    Hi I drink about 2 bottles of wine a day start late afternoon until evening watch tv don’t remember much after about 7.30 then…
    9 January 2020
  • Joseph
    Re: Addiction to Shopping
    Hi, I wonder if you can help? I am slightly worried about my bills and during my constant worrying, i spend money on materialistic things…
    27 December 2019
  • Pandalove1
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    Hey I reaching out to you as well what can I say an addict. I’ve always done recreational drugs since I was a teen, taking pills…
    19 October 2019
  • Adrianon
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    My partner of 2 years drinks beer everyday. It has got to the stage where he supplements beer for food. Drinking at…
    10 August 2019
  • Kdawg
    Re: Physical Effects of Solvents
    I'm 25 turning 26 in a couple weeks, I've been on solvents for half my life on and off, I've been clean for maybe four months or…
    12 May 2019
  • tross1970
    Re: Addiction and the Law
    amphetamine has been my addiction since about 2001 although i did enjoy alcohol since the age of 13.Ii progressed from oral use to…
    25 April 2019
  • Fin
    Re: Medical Help to Beat an Addiction
    i have been struggling with a pornography addiction and it is getting too much for me now to handle and it’s starting to…
    28 December 2018
  • Debs
    Re: What is Rehabilitation?
    I have used alcohol for many years to deal with every emotion and now I try to focus and it is difficult to concentrate on finding a…
    27 December 2018
  • Micky
    Re: Addiction in the Workplace
    Hi i have a strong craving for cigarettes and dont know if i really want to quit or if i have a hard time motivating myself i take a…
    8 December 2018
  • Es76
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    For the last few years I find it difficult not to think about alcohol when it gets to about 6 or 7 at night and when…
    30 November 2018