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October is Depression Awareness Month, and it is not uncommon for those struggling with depression to develop substance use disorder (SUD). It is also not unheard of for individuals to cope with depression by using marijuana. What they do not realize is that marijuana can become addictive. While it may offer them a temporary solution, it does not solve the problem. Plus, developing a cannabis use disorder only adds to your problems.

Understanding how depression or other mental health conditions can lead to SUD may help your treatment process. People also require further education on cannabis use. Many are unaware of the effects it can have, which is why so many may begin using it. Continue reading to learn more about depression, cannabis use disorder, and how you can successfully recover from both with West Coast Recovery Centers.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common mood disorder that causes severe symptoms affecting how a person feels, thinks, and functions day-to-day. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a depression diagnosis requires someone to experience symptoms for at least two weeks. However, these symptoms vary depending on the type of depression a person has. For instance, someone may struggle with major depression, persistent depressive disorder, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Other factors can worsen depression within a person. For example, the presence of other mental health conditions or SUD can cause SAD symptoms or even depression with symptoms of psychosis to occur. These may also cause your symptoms to change.

A diagnostician must learn more about your symptoms in order to make a more accurate diagnosis. Doing so requires a person to recognize and understand the symptoms within themselves.

Some of the symptoms you may experience, according to the NIMH, include:

  • Hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability, frustration, and restlessness
  • Persistently feeling sad, anxious, or empty
  • Fatigue and constant lack of energy
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Difficult concentrating or making decisions
  • Changes in appetite and unplanned weight change or loss
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Physical pain, such as body aches, headaches, or cramps
  • Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide

Experiencing these symptoms for at least two weeks may indicate a struggle with depression. If you recognize them within yourself or a loved one, consult a medical provider immediately. They can connect with treatment professionals and help you heal before a problem with cannabis use occurs.

Causes of Depression

Anyone can experience depression. However, pinpointing one direct cause is not always possible. We know that different factors can lead to its development. Potential causes of depression may include the following:

  • Having a history of depression within your family
  • Genetically inherited physical, chemical, or hormonal imbalances
  • Experiencing neglect, abuse, trauma, or other distressing situations
  • Substance use, especially early on and to cope with mental illness symptoms

Any of the substances used in an attempt to cope with depression symptoms can become addictive. Many turn to alcohol. But it is not unheard of for people to use more severe, illicit, and dangerous substances.

Many try marijuana as a way to manage their symptoms. However, they do not realize the potential dangers cannabis can have or the potential for dependency.

Understanding Cannabis Use Disorder

SUD occurs when someone can not stop or control their substance use despite health problems or issues in their social and professional lives. With the continued legalization of marijuana, cannabis use has become more common than ever. In fact, it has become the most-used illicit drug in the country.

The active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causes a high that people think helps them with their symptoms. However, individuals begin craving this high, leading to dependency.

Just as people must be able to recognize the signs of depression within themselves, they must recognize the signs of cannabis addiction, too. That may consist of:

  • Using marijuana more than intended
  • The inability to control or stop using
  • Intense cravings and experiencing withdrawal when trying to stop
  • Continuing to use it despite problems at home, school, or work
  • Spending more time using and giving up activities you once found enjoyable or spending time with loved ones

How Are Cannabis Use Disorder and Depression Connected?

Marijuana addiction and depression are connected in the same way as mental health conditions and SUD — dual diagnosis. People look elsewhere to manage mental health concerns when they have not developed healthy coping techniques. That often causes them to begin self-medicating to cope with their symptoms.

The inability to comprehend the complex feelings caused by depression puts individuals on the path toward substance use. Similarly, genetic, environmental, and other factors that cause depression may increase the prevalence of developing cannabis use disorder at some point. Those with depression use marijuana to detach from life, manage symptoms, and distract themselves from the deep, heavy sadness they feel day-to-day.

Thankfully, dual diagnosis treatment at West Coast Recovery Centers can help. To learn more about your treatment options and seek help for your depression and cannabis use disorder, contact West Coast today.

When people lack the ability to comprehend or cope with symptoms of a mental health condition, they begin to look elsewhere to relieve their symptoms, detach from their reality, and understand the complex feelings their depression causes. Unfortunately, depression can make it difficult for us to think clearly sometimes. That makes recognizing the signs of depression and seeking proper treatment more challenging. Thankfully, there are professional services that can help treat both your depression and your newfound struggles with cannabis use disorder. The road to recovery is possible, but you must first ask for help. You can learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment by contacting West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509.