Addiction & Co-occurring Depression: Symptoms & Warnings

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between clinical depression and normal sadness. In fact, some people who are suffering from depression may not experience much sadness at all. Keep reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression

At some point or another, everyone will experience periods of sadness within their lives. While feeling blue can be upsetting, this type of emotional response can be healthy for those events which are sad, as they can help individuals change and grow for the better.

However, normal sadness is very different from clinical depression. When sadness starts to interrupt one’s everyday life, is accompanied with other symptoms, or continues for weeks, months, or even years, an individual might be afflicted with a depressive disorder.

Depression is much more than just feeling down or struggling with common sadness. Depressive disorders are a group of mood disorders that can severely impact one’s life with symptoms that include emptiness, irritability, and sadness, as well as physical symptoms and changes within one’s thinking. The most common forms of depressive disorders include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Each of these three forms of depressive disorders are briefly described in the following:

Major depressive disorder: Those with major depressive disorder can experience periods of time that include sadness, decreased pleasure, loss of motivation or energy, weight and appetite changes, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, sleeping changes, suicidal thoughts, and decreased ability to think of concentrate for weeks to months to years at a time.

Persistent depressive disorder: Those struggling with persistent depressive disorder will battle symptoms similar to those of major depressive disorder, although symptoms of this type of depressive disorders are chronic, last for longer periods of time, and are not as intense.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: This type of depressive disorder includes symptoms that are similar to major depressive disorder, however symptoms are associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. These symptoms can include irritability, dysphoria, anxiety, depressed feelings before menses and mood swings. These symptoms decrease after menses has occurred.

All depressive disorders are difficult to manage and can dramatically impact an individual’s life. Many of these disorders begin slowly, and many individuals do not realize that a disorder such as this has consumed all aspects of their days until symptoms get worse.

While the symptoms of depressive disorders can be upsetting to handle, there is treatment available. With appropriate care and support, those who are battling major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder can go on to living happy and healthy lives.


Depression statistics

Depression affects roughly 14.8 million adults in America, or 6.7% of those ages 18 and older. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that depression often begins between ages 18 and 25. Rates of depression tend to increase after age 50, and adult women are more likely to report depression than men. Women, more specifically, are 1.4 to three times more likely to report major depressive disorder than men are.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

There are a number of risk factors and causes of depression. Some of the most common risk factors for depressive disorders can include the following:

Genetic: There is a significant connection between genetics and depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), those who have close family members with depression are 400% more likely to grapple with this disorder.

Environmental: Depressive disorders can be triggered by difficult, stressful, or traumatic events. Those who have experienced trouble in childhood, including bullying or abuse, might be at greater risk for developing a depressive disorder. If an individual’s environment includes a number of upsetting experiences, that individual’s chances of depression will be greater.

Risk Factors:

  • Past trauma
  • Gender (women report more depression than men)
  • Age (depression is more common within the 18-29 age group and becomes more common again later in life)
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Negative thinking or negative cognitions
  • Family history of depressive disorders
  • Personal history of substance use disorders

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

Each person who experiences a depressive disorder will do so differently. The type of depressive disorder, that individual’s past history, and his or her personality will all impact the signs and symptoms of depression. Some of the most common symptoms of depressive disorders can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Less attendance in social activities or pleasurable activities
  • Anxiety or jittery behavior
  • A decline in work or school performance
  • Crying or tearfulness
  • Slowed movements and speech, or a decrease in movement or speech
  • Irritability or angry outbursts

Physical symptoms:

  • Oversleeping or inability to sleep
  • Fatigue or listlessness
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Somatic pains such as headaches or stomachaches

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Distractibility
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Distractibility
  • Slowed cognitions

Psychological symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from usual activities
  • Irritable affect
  • Shame, guilt, or sadness
  • Suicidal ideation


Effects of depression

Without receiving the correct treatment, depression can become extremely dangerous. Depressive disorders can cause a number of issues, including:

  • Self-harm
  • Relationship conflict and strain
  • Sleep problems and exhaustion
  • Job loss
  • Risky or dangerous behaviors
  • Substance use
  • Difficulty keeping up with work or responsibilities
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Family conflict
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

Those who have depressive disorders are generally at an increased risk for developing other mental health problems, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
What our clients are saying

My depression got to the point where getting out of bed each morning was a struggle. Thanks to Huntington Creek, I am feeling relatively better and have a more optimistic outlook of the future.

– Depression
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