Clinical depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is an extremely common form of mental illness in adults and children alike. In fact, it’s been estimated that in 2020 over 8 percent of the world's adult population experienced an episode of depression.
Common causes of depression include:
However, there is another common cause of depression. Illegal and prescription drugs can cause serious depression to the point of suicide. Perhaps you’ve just started taking a newly prescribed medication and started experiencing feelings of extreme tiredness and loss of interest in things. It’s quite possible that your new medication may be causing these depression symptoms.
Many illegal drugs such as stimulants can also cause depression. This is because of how these drugs affect the pleasure centers in the brain.
Drug addiction in any form can cause depression. When you become a slave to a substance, feelings of guilt and shame may arise. You may do things you never thought you’d do, such as neglect your children.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression that may be linked to drug abuse, keep reading.
Depression can cause have a negative impact on your feelings, behaviors, and thinking. It’s normal to feel down or sad sometimes; however, major depression is often characterized by experiencing depression symptoms nearly every day.
Anything that is mind-altering can have a severe impact on your thoughts and moods. This is because mind-altering substances affect your brain chemistry (your brain's neurotransmitters). Certain drugs may be more likely to cause depression than others.
Here are some of these drugs:
Benzodiazepines can be prescribed by a doctor and are used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, agitation, seizures, and insomnia. These types of drugs attach to certain receptors in your nervous system, causing your whole body to relax and “slow down” essentially.
In fact, within30 minutes of taking a benzodiazepine, people have said that their anxiety had from a 10 to a 1. That’s pretty impressive, to say the least.
Benzodiazepines are good to use for a short period of time; however, people who use them for a long time report severe symptoms of depression. When you abuse a benzodiazepine, you are constantly slowing down your nervous system.
You may become very pathetic and lose the desire to do very much except eat and sleep. Before you know it, you are extremely depressed and could even get suicidal.
What goes up must come down. Stimulants essentially do the opposite of what benzodiazepines do. Stimulants create more activity in your central nervous system. Legal stimulants such as Adderall are used to treat ADHD. Other prescribed stimulants are used to treat things such as:
However, some of the most addictive drugs in existence are illegal stimulants. Illegal stimulants include cocaine and crystal meth. These drugs can cause intense euphoria.
Cocaine is usually snorted. However, it’s also smoked and injected as well. Snorting cocaine is more socially acceptable than shooting cocaine. Cocaine gives an intense rush for a short period of time. Therefore, you must keep doing cocaine to achieve the desired effect.
Once you start “coming down,” you can start to experience severe depression symptoms almost immediately. This is because, essentially, cocaine disturbs neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
Crystal meth is another popular stimulant that is illegal. Crystal meth is made in a variety of ways with the use of extremely harmful chemicals. It’s typically smoked but can also be smoked and injected. Crystal meth is different from cocaine in that a crystal meth high can last for days.
You could inject extremely potent crystal meth one time and be up for 4 days. This euphoric state lasts so long that the “come down” is just as drawn out. Some people who used to be addicted to crystal meth find that they can hardly find pleasure in doing things such as enjoying a movie or having sex.
Alcohol is one of the most common mind-altering substances used. After the work week is through, many people like to drink over the weekend. However, many people become full-blown alcoholics. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to experience the depression symptoms caused by alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant, so it slows down your central nervous system. It affects your coordination and decision making and can easily lead to deadly car accidents.
After a long night of drinking, you may experience a hangover the next morning. Along with other unpleasant things that come with a hangover are feelings of depression. You may be embarrassed because of something you said or realized that you forgot to do something important where someone was counting on you.
When alcohol is abused over a considerable amount of time, depression symptoms can get so severe that people have committed suicide.
Other drugs that cause depression include:
If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs that may be causing depression, help is available. The first step is talking to a mental health professional such as an addiction counselor. It may be recommended that you check yourself into an inpatient treatment facility.
First, you need to get off the drugs that are causing you depression so that a doctor can see how your symptoms change, if at all, once the drugs you were using are out of your system. At this point, a better assessment can be made of how to proceed.
Many times an antidepressant may be prescribed however, medication is only one piece of the puzzle. Therapy and a strong support group are needed in order to overcome an addiction to drugs that may cause depression.
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Cristal Clark, LPC-S, is the Medical Reviewer for ASIC Recovery Services. She reviews all website content for quality and medical accuracy. She is a master’s level Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and graduated from Liberty University in 2011. She has worked in the behavioral and mental health field for over 12 years and has a passion for helping others. She has been clinical director and CEO of a 200 plus bed facility, PHP, and IOP, with experience managing a team of counselors, individual/group/and family therapy, and coordinating continuum of care. Cristal is trained in EMDR and certified in non-violent intervention. She is a member of American Counseling Association and American Association of Christian Counselors.