Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

May 2019 Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

Substance abuse affects all areas of your life. In addition to impacting your life, if you are dependent on drugs or alcohol, you might also have a co-occurring mental health condition that existed before your substance use disorder.

Often, underlying mental health conditions worsen due to substance abuse. Usually, substance-induced mood disorder is a mental health condition directly caused by substance abuse.

About Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

A substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD) is a depressive state caused by alcohol, drugs, or medications. Importantly, this disorder doesn’t include pre-existing mood disorders, like bipolar, major depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Additionally, and as a consequence of self-medicating, the traditional mood disorders worsen due to substance use. Thus, as a result, SIMD instead occurs because of substance use.

For example, if you have a SIMD, you might attempt to use substances to self-medicate. However, the substances you use are further causing your symptoms. Over time, increased substance use can lead to dependency and addiction. Hence, the only way to heal from this type of mood disorder is to quit using drugs and alcohol, or detox. 

Drugs that Cause Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

Several drugs can cause SIMD, including:

  • Depressants, for example:
    • Alcohol
    • Opioids, including prescription painkillers and illicit drugs
    • Sedatives, like benzodiazepines (or “benzos”) and barbituates
    • Sleep medications
  • Hallucinogens, such as:
    • Phencyclidine (PCP)
    • LSD
    • Psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”)
    • Marijuana
  • Stimulants, like:
    • Cocaine
    • Amphetamine
    • Crystal meth
    • Prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall
  • Inhalants, which include household chemicals, gasoline, and aerosols
  • Steroids, including prescription medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
  • Anti-depressants

Essentially, any type of drug can potentially cause a SIMD. Therefore, identifying the causes of SIMD first requires an understanding of a person’s mental health before they began taking substances. Then, someone can in turn observe how they respond after quitting.

Types of Mood Disorders Caused by Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can cause various types of mood disorders. Additionally, drugs, alcohol, and medication can consequentially further affect the way your brain functions. As a result, not only can these mind-altering effects create disturbances in your thinking, but can lead to mood disorders as well.

According to an article from StatPearls, substance abuse can cause symptoms of mental health and mood disorders.

Some examples include:

  • Depression: Low energy levels, fatigue, and sadness
  • Anxiety: Feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear
  • Psychotic: Hallucinations and delusional thinking
  • Manic: Bursts of high energy and restlessness

Moreover, some substances can in fact cause these effects or alter your mood when you are under the influence. For instance, stimulants can cause high levels of energy and sleep disturbances. Additionally, drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms, for example, cause hallucinations as an intended effect. In summary, the difference is about your intention as well as how you feel about these effects.

To further illustrate, many people abuse or misuse alcohol to lighten their moods or reduce stress. Nonetheless, with a SIMD, alcohol additionally causes distressing feelings, like depression or anxiety. Therefore, many people with this specific mood disorder get caught in the cycle of addiction. Unfortunately, they use more substances to deal with these bad feelings.

treatment for substance induced mood disorder

Signs and Symptoms of SIMD

Substances—including prescription medications, alcohol, and illegal drugs—alter the way your brain functions. Moreover, these alterations can include your mental health and mood, hence resulting in SIMD.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Poor memory or concentration
  • Low energy
  • Prolonged sadness 
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Excessively talkative
  • Racing thoughts
  • High energy
  • Irritable or aggressive
  • Reckless decision-making

Many people who abuse substances experience alterations in their moods. Specifically, they feel these either under the influence or while recovering from using. For example, a hangover can disrupt your mood after a long night of drinking. In addition, when you stop drinking or using, you might have a mood disturbance as a withdrawal symptom during detox. Therefore, depression and anxiety are common and expected during detox.

The main difference between these mood alterations and SIMD is that symptoms disappear when you recover from a hangover. Additionally, symptoms can disappear when you go through withdrawal as well. With SIMD, you can start to have symptoms while using or drinking. Lastly, you can also continue to have symptoms after detox.

Self-medicating for an underlying mood disorder is common among those with substance use disorders. However, if you have never had a mood disorder in the past, substance abuse could be the cause of these distressing symptoms. 

SIMD Treatment Options

You can combat disorders with several options for treatment. Of course, the first step is to quit abusing the substances causing your disorder. For someone with prescription-induced mood disorders, you should speak to your physician about your concerns. They might prescribe alternative medications or medical interventions that do not require mind-altering prescriptions.

Treating any type of mood disorder co-occurring with substance abuse involves:

  • Detox: The process of going through withdrawal as your body adjusts to no longer having drugs or alcohol in your system.
  • Inpatient therapy: You might need long-term residential treatment to learn healthy habits to live without substances away from your home environment.
  • Outpatient therapy: For some people in recovery, outpatient therapy can help them overcome a mood disorder while they live at home or in a sober living facility.
  • Peer support: Building a support system with like-minded individuals experiencing similar issues can help you feel less alone in your recovery.

Treating Substance-Induced Mood Disorders in Palm Desert, CA

Substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, and prescription medications can have mind-altering effects that impact your mood. Therefore, substance-induced mood disorders (SIMD) can be caused by several types of legal and illegal drugs.

If you or your loved one have symptoms of a mood disorder associated with drugs and alcohol, Phoenix Rising Recovery of Palm Desert, California can help. Visit our admissions page to get a head start on your recovery from addiction.