Drugs and alcohol seem to promise an escape from the frustrations and stress of daily life. When you struggle with co-occurring mood disorders, this promise seems even more appealing. Unfortunately, the truth is that drugs and alcohol cause more problems than they solve. They worsen pre-existing mental health issues. They contribute to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.

What Is a Mood Disorder?

Mood disorders affect how you think and feel. The Food and Drug Administration defines a mood disorder as, “a prominent and persistent disturbance in mood.”1 This disturbance can lead to a depressed, elevated or irritable mood. A mood disorder induced by outside factors involves, “evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the disturbance is the direct physiological consequence of a general medical condition.”1 A mood disorder can also be caused by medications, drugs or alcohol. No matter the cause, a mood disorder is a real, serious mental health concern.

Individuals with mood disorders cannot control their symptoms. They cannot simply “stop” feeling depressed or manic. Their mental health concerns begin to overtake their thoughts and lives. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains that all mood disorders are accompanied by “somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual’s capacity to function.”2 Mood disorders impact how a person experiences daily life. They influence some choices and take away others. Symptoms can trigger new or continued substance abuse.

Woman with mood disorder

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mood Disorders

Mood disorders and substance abuse often overlap. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Many people who are addicted to drugs are also diagnosed with other mental disorders and vice versa. For example, compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, with the reverse also true.”3 There are many reasons why this overlap occurs.

Addiction is a mental health issue, so it cannot be ignored or separated from other mental health concerns. Drug abuse can trigger mood disorders. Mood disorders can lead to drug or alcohol use. Substance use and mood disorders also share many risk factors, symptoms and effects. NIDA explains that these concerns involve similar brain regions. Substance abuse issues and mood disorders also share environmental triggers. A person’s past or present may put them at risk for both. Genetics may also lead to a person, “having a greater risk of a second disorder once the first appears.” Individuals may be genetically vulnerable to developing a mood disorder after beginning drug or alcohol abuse.

No matter the reason mood disorders and substance abuse overlap, they can and should be treated. Professional integrated treatment programs help patients address all co-occurring concerns. They help them unravel causes and contributing factors. They help individuals move forward and find freedom from mental health and addiction symptoms.

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

Black Bear Lodge offers the professional, in-depth care you or a loved one needs. You can get treatment for substance use and mental health issues right now. We are here to answer your questions. We are here to support you in your journey towards recovery and wellness. Please reach out at 855-808-6212 today.

1Appendix D—DSM-IV-TR Mood Disorders.” Food and Drug Administration. Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.

2 American Psychiatric Association. “Mood Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. 2013. Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.

3 “Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Mar. 2011. Accessed 5 Nov. 2017.