Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

Results of a recent study suggest substance-induced mood disorders are prevalent among drug and alcohol users. For example, for those with an alcohol use disorder, 40-60% experienced substance-induced depression. For opiate users, 55% had substance-induced depression.

Turning to substances to numb uncomfortable emotions can result in subsequent issues. In this article, we’re exploring the dangers of substance-induced mood disorders.

Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

A substance-induced mood disorder is a specific type of depression caused by alcohol and drugs, either prescription or illicit.

With substance-induced mood disorders, however, the after-effects are much worse. They don’t go away after a few hours or days. The feelings of sadness and hopelessness, the lack of interest in activities, the loss of enjoyment, and fatigue increase and start interfering with the ability to function.

It can be confusing. When you first started drinking or taking medicines, you felt better. You were happier, felt less pain, and enjoyed participating in different activities. Over time, the same substance that once made you feel good is now creating a mood disorder.

Here’s what you need to know about substance-induced mood disorders.

What is a Mood Disorder?

Moods are emotional states. Your emotions affect your behaviors. Whether your mood is happy, depressed, or anxious, it affects how you work, interacts in relationships, and function overall. Everyone has varying moods. Depending on what is happening during the day, someone can be sad for a bit, then, later on, be happy again.

For example, if you go to work and learn your workload will double, you may feel anxious. After work, when you go home and surround yourself with loved ones, you feel better, your mood improves.

Your mood becomes disordered when it does not change for more extended periods. If you have gone weeks feeling the same depressed emotions, it could mean you have a mood disorder. Or, if you are struggling with anxiety or feeling manic and euphoric, you may have a mood disorder.

You must meet with a mental health professional as soon as you notice your symptoms are prolonged or have become more severe.

Some mood disorders occur naturally. They may be due to an imbalance in brain chemicals, lifestyle issues, or genetics.

Other mood disorders are caused by substances like alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs.

Substance-Induced vs. Non-Substance-Abuse

Suppose you have a mood disorder, like depression or anxiety, before using alcohol or drugs. In that case, you do not meet the diagnosis requirements of a substance-induced mood disorder. However, if you did not have depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder before, but do now, then your mood disorder was likely caused by the use of drugs or alcohol.

Also, the substance used matters. Many can cause mood disorders, but not all.

Substances That Can Create Mood Disorders

Alcohol is one of the top substances contributing to mood disorders. PCP, hallucinogens, inhalants, amphetamines, cocaine, and steroids can induce depression, anxiety, and even mania.

Other substances known to create mood disorders include nicotine, prescription opiates, heroin, and hypnotics. Even drugs taken to help with more serious medical conditions can lead to feelings of depression. Examples include antibiotics and medicines used in dermatology, central nervous system, and chemotherapy.

To find out if substances affect your mood, you will need to be evaluated and get a diagnosis from a psychiatrist.

Diagnosing Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians with specialty certifications in mental health and addiction. They are the perfect professionals to help you figure out if you have a substance-induced mood disorder. As mentioned before, they will first want to know if you had mood disorder symptoms before you started using alcohol or drugs.

Other things they will evaluate will be when your symptoms appeared, how they have persisted, and how much of the substance you have been using. In addition, they will want to discuss the specific symptoms you experience. For example, crying uncontrollably, panic attacks, severe mood swings.

You can help get an accurate diagnosis by being honest about your symptoms and documenting them in the weeks and months before meeting with your doctor.

Alcohol and drugs can induce multiple mood disorders, but depression and anxiety seem to be the most common.

Other Substance-Induced Disorders

The diagnostic and statistical manual used for diagnosing substance-induced disorders has listed other conditions, some mood and some non-mood related.

Remember, the disorders listed here exist because there is a direct connection to the use of alcohol or drugs. They are substance-induced delirium, substance-induced persisting dementia, substance-induced persisting amnestic disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, substance-induced mood disorder, substance-induced anxiety disorder, hallucinogen persisting perceptual disorder, substance-induced sexual dysfunction, and substance-induced sleep disorder.

Help is Available

Substance-induced mood disorders must be treated by trained, licensed mental health and addiction professionals because both the addiction and the mental illness must be treated simultaneously.

Detoxing from substances does not make depression or anxiety vanish, and it’s impossible to treat mental health issues while on drugs or alcohol.

Dual-diagnosis treatment is the key to success.

A mental health center can use a wide range of techniques to help you overcome problems associated with co-occurring disorders like substance-induced mood disorders.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and family therapy are common methods. The idea behind using multiple treatments is to address all areas at the same time. You don’t have to wait until you have completed substance abuse treatment before starting mental health treatment.

Take the First Step

You can get help starting today. You can even get help online with a virtual appointment.

The first step is to make a call to the mental health center in your area. Speak with a call center counselor. Ask questions. Tell them what you have been going through.

You will be given an opportunity to meet with a psychiatrist or psychologist who can offer an extensive evaluation. Then together, you will create a treatment plan that works.

You can overcome a substance-induced mood disorder. Before long, you will see significant improvements and can start living a healthy lifestyle. You can set positive goals and have success in reaching them. You deserve a fresh start. We are here to help.