Drugs and alcohol are often abused to provide users with an escape from the frustrations and stresses of life, but the reality is that they can cause even further mental damage to a person.

One such negative effect is mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Illicit substances can exacerbate the disorders in people who are prone to them, or in those who live in situations and environments where the triggers for drug and alcohol mood disorders are commonly found.

Mood Disorders and Drugs and Alcohol

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a mood disorder as a state of either a depressed mood, where the patient loses interest in hobbies or activities in which they used to take pleasure, or a euphoric or elevated mood, where the patient is “expansive” and “irritable.” For this to be considered a true mood disorder, the patient must have no control over their states – they cannot simply “stop” feeling depressed or manic – and various aspects of their lives must suffer as a result of the disorder. For example, the depression makes the patient unmotivated to spend time with friends or family, or the mania renders them incapable of meeting their professional or academic obligations.

In the case of drug- or alcohol-induced mood disorders, the disturbance of mood has to be “due to the direct physiological effects of a substance.” The disorders have to be present while the substances are having their effect on the patient or when the patient is experiencing withdrawal from the substances. If the patient shows depressive or manic symptoms without the presence of drugs or alcohol, or when they are not in the process of withdrawal, then a diagnosis of drug- and alcohol-induced mood disorder might not be valid.

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Reporting on the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program, a study published in the Journal of American Psychiatry found of the 20,291 people enrolled in the program who had an alcohol disorder, 37 percent of them had a co-occurring mental disorder. Drug users (excluding alcohol) were found to have the highest rate for mental health disorders, at 53 percent. In talking about mood disorders and substance abuse, PsychCentral explains that for patients who have an alcohol or drug problem, their most common psychiatric diagnoses are for anxiety and depression.

Mood disorders can also be induced by prescription drugs, whether as a result of the patient intentionally misusing the drugs beyond their safety limitations, or the drugs being prescribed without an understanding of the patient’s risk factors for abuse and thus triggering mood disorders. A study in Bipolar Disorders found that about 25 to 33 percent of bipolar patients “may be inherently susceptible to antidepressant-induced manias.” The study further concluded that genetics played a role in determining whether a patient was prone to mood disorders induced by prescription drugs.

Risk Factors for Mood Disorders

Substance induced mood disorders are more likely to develop in patients who have the necessary risk factors for developing such disorders, like:

  • High-stress lifestyles and environments
  • Chronic or severe medical conditions
  • Family history
  • History of trauma or abuse

Treating Drug- and Alcohol-Induced Mood Disorders at Black Bear Lodge

Abuse of drugs and alcohol can cause a lifetime’s worth of problems, including mood disorders. However, getting treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, and the mood disorders they induce, can help right now. That’s why Black Bear Lodge is here: to answer your questions, give you information and help you take the first step to casting off the burden of mood disorders caused by substance abuse. Please call us and talk with one of our admissions coordinators to find out how we can m