It’s not a party if it happens every night. Many addicts tell themselves they are ‘just partying’ when in reality the addiction is being fed. Also, many people who are clinically depressed, about 10% of Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control, use substances to self-medicate. Here we explore the relationship between partying (alcohol and drug abuse) and depression. Due to the obvious immoral and unhealthy implications, actual studies cannot be performed to determine if being depressed is caused by drug abuse, but much evidence suggests a relationship between them.
What is Clinical depression? Am I depressed?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the definition of clinical depression is “the more severe form of depression,” and “isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss…” To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must deal with at least five of the following symptoms, for the majority of at least two weeks:
- Severely depressed mood
- Reduced interest or pleasure
- Significant weight loss not from diet or exercise
- Insomnia or extreme tiredness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Whether clinical depression causes drug and alcohol abuse, or vice versa, frankly does not matter. The dual diagnosis of clinical depression and addiction is fierce, and unfortunately common. A study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine states that “one in three adults who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse also suffers from depression.”
Partying as a Mask
If after a long work week you decide to hit the bar on Friday and have two drinks, wait a while, eat something and safely drive home, you can call that partying. If after every day of work you drive to the store, buy a 12 pack and drink in front of the TV, you may be depressed and masking it with partying. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published a study in 2002 that shows 30% to 50% of alcohol abusers also have clinical depression.
Because being depressed causes feelings of sadness, loneliness and disinterest, many depressed people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. This in turn masks the depression, does not help the issue or issues causing it, and prevents the depression from being properly treated.
Consider this quote from an article by anonymous author on Thump, an online music publication: “Over time, the positive effect of partying had diminished and near-breakdowns were piling up. The emotional highs were coupled with new lows… Leaving the party started getting harder because I was afraid of the comedown.”
But it’s just a few drinks…
Not just heavy drugs and binge drinking are associated with depression. Alcohol is classified as a depressant, and just one night of alcohol abuse can cause mild depression, because the Serotonin levels decrease in your brain. Heavy drinking almost certainly causes depression. Also, marijuana, (by many considered to be the ‘lightest’ illegal drug), can cause clinical depression as well. As quoted in a study conducted by the Society for the Study of Addiction, “…cannabis use and depression are associated and evidence from longitudinal studies suggests that heavy cannabis use may increase depressive symptoms among some users.”
Statistics and studies and science only illustrate the issue. The source of the issue is inside of us all. Clinical depression may not be easy to recognize, and if you think you may have it, read again through the symptoms. Also, a test offered by Psychology Today can help you determine if you are clinically depressed. Addiction and depression are both serious diseases, and the only plus to the dual diagnosis is that helping one may indeed help the other.
Are you Depressed? These Resources can help you.
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Harvard Health Publications
- Stanford Medicine