What is a Substance-Induced Mood Disorder?
What is a Substance-Induced Mood Disorder?

What Is a Substance-Induced Mood Disorder? 

It’s fairly common for people who have issues with drug addictions to also be suffering from some type of mental health disorder. On occasion, however, substance abuse can actually be the cause of a person’s mental health problems. A substance-induced mood disorder can take over your life, negatively impacting your sense of well-being on every level: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

While everyone goes through moments of sadness, anxiety or irritability, when a substance-induced mood disorder hits, the mental and emotional imbalance can be considerably worse and can last for much longer. Finding yourself in such a place can be confusing, particularly if you’ve never experienced the symptoms of a clinical mood disorder before.

The irony of substance-induced mental health problems is that most people drink alcohol and take drugs to feel better, yet those same substances just make them feel worse. This point is not to be taken lightly. Since they may associate alcohol, drugs, or even their medications with positive emotions, many people, unfortunately, don’t realize that their consumption of these very substances are actually the cause of their mental health issues. 

They thus put off seeking the help that they so desperately need.

What Causes a Substance-Induced Mood Disorder?

No one knows for sure why certain substances lead to mental health issues in some people. What we do know, however, is that our brains are a busy hub of chemical production and activity. When things are working they way they should, when there is chemical balance in the brain, our brain cells can effectively communicate with each other and our mood is relatively steady. However, when that delicate balance is disrupted, when the lines of communication in our brains are broken or impaired, it can have a negative affect on our mood, energy level, and behavior. On occasion, the chemical imbalance created by substance abuse will trigger a serious mood disorder.

The potential impact of drugs and alcohol on the brain’s chemical composition and activity has been well-documented. But each person’s makeup is different, and it is generally hard to know which substances may lead to a full-blown mental health disorder. 

To further complicate matters, the substances that can induce problems with your mood may include not only alcohol and illicit drugs, but also prescription medications, and even some over-the-counter medicines.

Below is a short list of the substances that may contribute to a substance-induced mood disorder:

What Types of Substance-Induced Mood Disorders Exist?

There are three primary categories of mood disorders that can be triggered or worsened with substance abuse:

  • Depressive Disorders. This range of mental health conditions are characterized by persistent, uncontrollable negative thoughts and feelings of sadness and apathy and that interfere with daily life. According to research, the imbalance and malfunction of the neurotransmitters in the brain can lead to depressive disorders.
  • Anxiety Disorders. Anxiety disorders are characterized by uncontrollable and excessive stress, anxiety, and worry about things that are often not controllable.
  • Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is generally believed to be the result of imbalances in the neurotransmitters in the brain. An imbalance of one or more neurotransmitters can make a person susceptible to bipolar disorder.

What are the Symptoms of A Substance-Induced Mental Health Condition?

Although each person is unique, there are certain symptoms of substance-induced mood disorders that are common and follow the three main types of mental health conditions listed above. These symptoms will generally begin soon after you start taking a particular drug or consuming alcohol. They can last as long as the substance is still in your system and may even persist for several days after you’ve stopped taking them.

Symptoms usually will be either depressive or manic in nature. Depressive symptoms include:

  • Low levels of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of guilt, worthless, or hopelessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Isolation
  • Apathy
  • Feeling inadequate or worthless

Manic symptoms include:

  • Irritability, hostility, or aggression
  • Unexplainable feelings of euphoria
  • Over-abundance of energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to sleep

Diagnosing Substance-Induced Mental Health Issues

Before medical or mental health professionals will give a diagnosis of substance-induced mood disorder, they will check to make sure that the shifts in mood or behavior were not present before the use of the substance in question. The goal, in this case, is to rule out other possible causes of the mental health condition. Once a diagnosis is reached it will affect the direction of the treatment. 

For instance, when a person stops taking certain drugs, the withdrawal itself can lead to depression. However, the person’s mood will usually lighten up within a few days. On the other hand, with substance-induced depression, the negative thoughts and behaviors can actually start during withdrawal and persist or even get worse as the individual goes through a detox program. In each case, the way we will be treating the patient’s depression will be personalized.

Getting Help

At Bold Health, we can help you identify the underlying factors that are negatively affecting your mood and develop a plan to overcome them. We provide effective mood disorder treatment programs in San Diego for all types of mood disorders. We not only guide you in your journey to a better and healthier way of life, we walk alongside you every step of the way. Our BOLD Method is a new, innovative, and science-supported recovery program developed and led by a dedicated team of doctors and medical professionals.

Addiction treatment

For more information about our Intensive Outpatient Programs, and Mood Disorder Treatment Programs, contact us here




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