According to the Johns Hopkins Depression and Anxiety Bulletin, around 6 million American men suffer from depression. While this is half the number of women who struggle with depression, men are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol when in the midst of a bout of depression.

The presence of drugs or alcohol can make the depression symptoms worse, leading to a greater desire for the addictive substance. This causes men to spiral into a never-ending cycle of depression and drug abuse.

Understanding this connection and learning to seek help quickly after starting down the path of depression can help men combat both problems.

The Connection Between Depression and Drug Abuse

When someone is suffering from depression, that individual will feel overwhelming sadness and hopelessness. The release received from drugs or alcohol can lessen the feelings of depression. Soon the individual starts to try to self-medicate to get relief from the condition.

However, this can cause a spiral, because the drugs or alcohol are actually depressant. After their mood-lifting effects are gone, they can actually cause deeper depression.

For instance, controlled substances can change the neurotransmitters in the brain to make it more likely that the individual will fall back into a state of depression. They also cause physical changes in the tissues and organs of the body that can contribute to depression.

Drugs and alcohol can also be triggers for depression. While under the influence, individuals can often make poor decisions or act impulsively.

When they come out of the effects of the drugs or alcohol and find that they no longer have money in the bank because they wasted it, learn that they hurt someone they care about or hear that they lost their job as a result of their actions while using the substances, they will seek even more deeply into depression.  These are typical reactions we see daily in drug and alcohol treatment.

This, in turn, can cause them to seek more drugs or alcohol, feeding the cycle until it’s hard to tell whether the depression or the substance abuse is the root problem.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse Related to Depression

How can you tell if you or someone you love is struggling with depression as a result of drug abuse?

First, look for the signs of depression, which include:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Headaches, chronic pain, stomach problems
  • Negative moods

For men specifically, who do not like to show signs of weakness, depression is more likely to turn into problems with irritability and anger, rather than sadness and crying.  Anger management is a key treatment service provided to deal with these symptoms of depression.

Men try to mask their feelings and keep them inside, and this can set the stage for outbursts.

When the symptoms of depression are combined with alcohol or drug abuse, the individual needs to be treated for both. When substance abuse and depression are linked, recovery is more challenging, because both issues need to be addressed and treated.

For this reason, it’s vital that individuals with a dual diagnosis get professional help, rather than trying to deal with the problems on their own.

Only with professional help can someone struggling with both depression and drug or alcohol abuse get true freedom from the problems they are facing.