Co-Occurring Disorders
The Link Between Depression & Xanax Addiction

We all feel sad from time to time. Generally these feelings stem from a set of circumstances. Maybe we lose a job we enjoyed, a romantic relationship comes to a bitter end, or a beloved pet runs away. Over time, as the pain begins to fade, we start to reacclimate to our lives and move on. “Time heals all wounds,” as they say.

For someone who has been suffering from a diagnosable depressive disorder, however, simply “waiting it out” is not an option. Depression is a diagnosable mental illness that stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Individuals who struggle with depression need much more than a pat on the back and a daily dose of encouragement. If you or someone you love has been suffering from clinical depression, professional intervention may be necessary. In most cases, depressive disorders can be treated with a combination of medication and intensive therapy.

However, if an individual has self-medicated their depression with drugs or alcohol and has developed a substance use disorder in addition to depression, treatment will need to address both. The two conditions exacerbate each other — depression can cause one to abuse substances, and substance abuse makes depression worse. It is a vicious cycle.

At CuraSouth we specialize in treating both mental health disorders and addiction issues simultaneously. Our Dual Diagnosis approach has shown to be extremely helpful for individuals suffering from depression and addiction. To learn more about our medical detox program, contact us today.

Depression & Addiction

Many individuals who suffer from an undiagnosed or untreated depressive disorder simultaneously suffer from a substance abuse disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 20 percent of all people with depression suffer from addiction. On the flipside, roughly 20 percent of all people struggling with addiction have an underlying depressive disorder. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that abuse of prescription medication is particularly high among people with an untreated depressive disorder.

Both benzodiazepines like Xanax and prescription opioid painkillers are frequently abused by individuals with depression. In fact, research published by NIDA about the co-occurrence of mental health disorders and addiction indicates that 43 percent of people in substance use disorder treatment for non-medical use of prescription painkillers have a diagnosis or symptoms of mental health disorders, particularly depression and anxiety.

Why do these two disorders so commonly co-occur? There are several potential reasons. First of all, common risk factors contribute to both mental illness and addiction. For example, someone who comes from a high-stress environment is more likely to develop a mental illness over time, and is also more likely to engage in substance abuse. Someone who has addiction and mental illness in the family is more likely to develop both disorders. Secondly, having an untreated mental illness often leads to self-medication, which often develops into addiction over time. Finally, chronic substance misuse can lead to the development of a mental health condition. If a person uses a high dosage of Xanax on a daily basis, for example, he or she is liable to experience a change in cognitive functioning which can lead to persistent feelings of sadness. It is not initially important to determine which disorder preceded the other. What is truly important is seeking professional help.

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About Depression

Depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in America (right after anxiety). There are several types of depressive disorders.

Types of Depression:

Major Depressive Disorder – People who are suffering from major depressive disorder experience overwhelming feelings of sadness and disillusionment most of the time. They might experience a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, changes to sleeping or eating patterns, a lack of motivation throughout the day and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. When it comes to major depressive disorder a combination of individual therapy and medication is often effective.

Manic Depression – Also known as bipolar disorder, manic depression is characterized by short periods of mania followed by periods of depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder – If a person experiences a depressive episode that lasts for two years or longer, it is likely that he or she is suffering from persistent depressive disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – This is a period of major depression that occurs when the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, usually during the winter months. People who are struggling with seasonal affective disorder often find that antidepressant medication is extremely beneficial.

Situational Depression – Situational depression refers to a major depressive episode that is brought on by a specific situation, such as a major personal loss. While the symptoms associated with situational depression often resolve on their own over time, antidepressant medication can be beneficial.

Psychotic Depression – People who suffer from psychotic depression experience the symptoms associated with major depression along with delusions, severe paranoia and auditory and visual hallucinations.

At CuraSouth we work closely with individuals suffering from a depressive disorder. Upon admission to our medical detox program, each of our clients undergoes an in-depth clinical and medical assessment which helps our detox team determine whether or not dual diagnosis treatment is necessary. If we believe that a client is suffering from an undiagnosed depressive disorder, he or she is paired with a psychiatric professional who conducts a thorough assessment and prescribes antidepressant medications as necessary.

Xanax Addiction

It is not uncommon for individuals who have been suffering from an undiagnosed depressive disorder to use chemical substances including prescription medications. Xanax is a medication that is commonly misused as a means of self-medication. When taken in higher doses than intended, this benzodiazepine can lead to memory loss, sedation and feelings of euphoria. However, misusing any chemical substance in an attempt to treat symptoms of depression only leads to an exacerbation of these symptoms over time. If you or someone you love has been abusing Xanax, seeking professional clinical care is extremely important. At CuraSouth we offer a program of medical Xanax detox that was specifically designed for individuals suffering from prescription drug addiction and any underlying issues.

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CuraSouth & Xanax Detox

Medically monitored detox is often a necessary first step to begin recovery. When it comes to benzodiazepine medications like Xanax, medical detox is particularly important. The symptoms associated with Xanax withdrawal can be dangerous — even life-threatening — when not closely overseen by a team of medical professionals.

Symptoms of Xanax Withdrawal:

  • Uncontrollable shaking/body tremors
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Extreme anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia
  • Feelings of depression and suicidal ideation
  • Insomnia and other severe sleep-related issues
  • Severe stomach cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Coma

At CuraSouth we offer 24/7 medical supervision to ensure that no serious health-related complications occur during the detox process. We are dedicated to providing each and every one of our clients with a safe and pain-free Xanax withdrawal, and we always prioritize client comfort.

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If you or someone you love has been suffering from Xanax addiction and depression, CuraSouth is available to help. We understand how overwhelming it can be to grapple with a dual diagnosis disorder of any type or severity. Maybe you have sought professional help for one of the issues, but because the other issue was left untreated you experienced a relapse. It is important to understand that in order for long-term recovery to be achieved, all underlying issues must be thoroughly addressed. To learn more about our program of dual diagnosis detox or to begin your own personal journey of recovery, contact us today. We are standing by 24/7 to answer any additional questions you might have or begin the admissions process.

Travis Atchison

Reviewed for accuracy by: our Clinical Director:

Travis Atchison
LCSW, MCAP


Travis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Addiction Professional. He has worked in various community-based settings, where he served families and couples, addressed issues related to homelessness and crisis and worked in a substance abuse setting.