People with substance abuse problems are more likely to have other psychiatric conditions than the general population. Conversely, people with psychiatric disorders are more likely to develop substance abuse problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, someone who suffers from depression is four times more likely to develop a substance-related disorder. For people with bipolar disorder, the risk is 14 times greater.
Alcoholism is a disorder that produces many similar signs and symptoms required for diagnosis of major depression. While alcohol often initially causes a “good mood,” alcohol is a depression-causing drug.
While no studies have shown that depression actually causes alcoholism, the two disorders are commonly
seen in the same patients at the same time. Thirty to fifty percent of alcoholics, at any given time, are
also suffering from major depression. Some research findings about alcoholism and depression include the following:
- Family history of either depression or alcoholism puts a person at increased risk for developing either illness.
- Alcoholism may cause a relapse in patients with depression.
- The depressive symptoms from alcohol are greatest when a person first stops drinking, so recovering alcoholics with a history of depression should be carefully monitored during the early stages of withdrawal.
- The symptoms of depression in alcoholics are greatly reduced after three to four weeks of stopping alcohol intake.
- A person suffering from major depression and who abuses alcohol has a much higher risk of attempting and succeeding at taking his own life.
- Alcohol abuse can exaggerate depression and increase impulsiveness.
- Alcohol is frequently detected in suicide methods involving driving a moving vehicle or overdosing.
- Alcohol impairs judgment, which explains its association with painful suicide methods.
- Because of the risk of suicide, it is critical that people suffering from major depression and abusing alcohol receive prompt medical attention.
Alcoholism may cause a relapse in people with depression. The depressive symptoms from alcohol are greatest when a person first stops drinking. So people recovering from alcoholism who have a history of depression should be carefully monitored during the early stages of withdrawal; the symptoms of depression are greatly reduced after three to four weeks of stopping drinking.