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Understanding Medication or Substance-Induced Depression

Everyone experiences bouts of stress and anxiety at some point in his or her life. Butterflies in one’s stomach before a job interview, having clammy hands while going through an embarrassing social situation or cold sweats trickling down when thinking of a challenge, all can be attributed to increased levels of physical and mental stress. In most of the cases, it could be a normal transitory phase.

Sometimes, people grappling with prolonged fear, mental and physical uneasiness or tension look for easy ways to relieve themselves of such feelings. They often start abusing drugs or alcohol or take certain medications to boost their low self-worth, alleviate their agitated minds or douse their inhibitions. But what happens is exactly the opposite – the substances which they had associated with good feelings, actually make them feel worse. As a result, the passing feelings of restlessness or paranoia aggravates and lasts for a much longer period of time.

However, most people do not realize that it is alcohol and drugs that cause the anxiety. They are totally unaware of the fact that they might be suffering from substance or drug-induced depressive disorder.

Certain drugs alter brain chemicals

Drug-induced depression is a cause of concern because of the associated comorbidity and risk factors. However, it may differ from person to person. For example, those with a family history of mood disorders, depression-related problems, bipolar disorder or drug abuse might be prone to such a condition. An individual’s decision to abuse an illicit substance or a prescribed medicine in order to obtain relief may aggravate the discomfort instead of alleviating it.

Whatever may be the reason, substance-induced depression occurs when drugs or certain medications alter the chemicals in the brain. For instance, in the case of Isotretinoin, which is prescribed to treat acne problems, long-term use could possibly cause depression in some individuals. Similarly, drug-induced depression might also be the outcome of certain oral birth control pills, hypertension medications, and some drugs used to treat high cholesterol levels.

However, an efficient way to ascertain if a medication or drug is affecting mood or mental health negatively is to know which medicines can trigger feelings of dejection or elevate anxiety levels. Consulting one’s doctor to identify the symptoms of induced depression or requesting an alternative set of medications could always be a better option.

However, for a doctor to conduct a diagnosis of drug-induced depression in an individual, the symptoms have to be considerably affecting all aspects of the patient’s life, causing a huge emotional upheaval. The symptoms may include excessive sleeping or drowsiness, prolonged disinterest, social and emotional withdrawal, persistent feeling of hopelessness, suicidal tendencies, weariness and frequents bouts of irritation.

Making help available

There is no doubt that drug-induced depressive disorder can interfere with a person’s day-to-day living. Regardless of its cause, depression needs to be properly treated, because, if left untreated, it can take a heavy toll on one’s physical and mental health. A long-term depressive behavior may lead to other serious functional and physical problems.