People affected by mood disorders or depression often rely on drugs or alcohol instead of seeking treatment. While they may not know they have a treatable condition, they will use stimulants and other substances to change the way they are feeling. This often causes even more problems when the effects of the alcohol or drugs wear off, prompting bouts of depression.
When people affected by mood disorders, such as manic depression, feel sad or out of control, drinking alcohol is one method of changing the way they feel. This can numb feelings of sadness or make body aches and pains associated with the mental health condition. Once the effects wear off, however, the person is usually left with a hangover. Physical effects include nausea, headache and dehydration, making them feel worse than before. In order to feel better, this may become a habit and then a cycle.
Rather than using alcohol, some people experiencing mood swings or bouts of depression may turn to recreational or prescription drugs to help make themselves feel better.
One popular drug of choice is cocaine. When used, this stimulates the brain, giving the user a euphoric feeling. After the effects wear off, however, the user feels more depressed. In order to alleviate the feelings of sadness or boredom, the brain is fed more stimulant, cocaine. The more it is used, the more it is needed to combat the moodiness and feelings occurring when the individual is not under the influence of a stimulant.
This can also happen with certain prescription drugs when the patient is not monitored or obtains the medications from people with a valid prescription with or without their consent. This can spiral into a more serious condition.
Alcohol or drug dependency coupled with mood or behavioral disorders is referred to as a dual diagnosis. They must be treated simultaneously to help the patient to overcome the feelings and symptoms associated with both. Otherwise, they will likely teeter-totter back and forth between the two problems with neither being controlled or relieved for any length of time.
This problem is often misdiagno0sed as another condition when the patient is dishonest with the health care provider about use of substances. Certain recreational drugs with very strong effects on the user can be misunderstood as symptoms of other mood or behavioral disorders. Schizophrenia, for example, includes hallucinations in its list of symptoms. Unknown use of hallucinogenic drugs, such as certain types of mushrooms, may lead to a wrong diagnosis. The hallucinations would likely cease when the person stops using the drugs.
When the two problems are treated together, the patient will likely improve when the use of conflicting drugs and alcohol stops. Psychotherapy and prescription medication may be given to help the patient. This often includes an in-house treatment program at a mental health facility that specializes in dual diagnosis.