Depression and Substance Use Disorders

The Link Between Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders


Depression is a serious mental health disorder than can affect a person’s entire life. It can lead to disinterest in many things, including school, work, and relationships. Studies show that people with depression or major depressive disorder, commonly have co-existing disorders including substance use disorder.

Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”

Substance use disorders are not limited to alcohol. Any substance that results in functional impairment or interferes with a person’s life can fall into the category. If you are struggling with substance abuse, there are treatment options. 


As noted by the Mayo Clinic, there are several different kinds of depression. A medical professional can help diagnose the specific type of depression that you or your loved one are experiencing.

Types of depression include:

  • Unipolar major depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD)

Any symptoms of depression should be taken seriously and reported to a healthcare professional. Symptoms may include but are not limited to chronic fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, weight gain or loss, thoughts of suicide, lack of interest, restlessness, headaches, cramps, anxiety, and abnormal sleep patterns.

Depression and substance use disorders often co-exist. It is unclear whether one causes the other, but they can both be managed through treatment.