It is not uncommon for depression and addiction to be found together in a dual diagnosis. Often, they can reinforce one another and build on each other to strengthen destructive thoughts and behavior. The reason depression and addiction are commonly co-occurring disorders is they frequently have roots in the same maladaptive behaviors.
Both depression and addiction have roots in the inability to cope with life circumstances. Depression is expressed in the form of sadness, lethargy and negative thinking, while addiction is characterized by compulsively escaping from life circumstances into a pleasurable. This makes addiction a common, dysfunctional way of coping with depression. Sometimes the reverse happens and a person falls into depression because they are struggling with addiction.
When the two disorders are working in tandum, usually one is dominant and influences the other. In some instances, a person with little to no depression gets hooked on a substance or a behavior because they are influenced by addictive tendencies. When they become aware that their addiction is negatively affecting their lives but they do not know how to end it, they begin to think less of themselves and become vulnerable to depression.
Or, if they are prone to depression because of psychological, biological or environmental reasons, they may self-diagnose and seek their own remedy without the guidance of a medical opinion. Drugs, alcohol, or certain pleasurable activities such as sex are just a few of the escapes that a depressed person may turn to. Because these things have the ability to remove a depressed person from their negative emotions, they can become addictive to the point that the depressed person does not know how to limit their use of them, and addiction is born.
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