Substance Induced Mood Disorder

8 Things to Know About Substance Induced Mood Disorder

November 26, 2021

The term mood disorder is an umbrella term used to describe all types of bipolar disorders and depressive disorders. Mood disorders are severe mental health struggles that can impact anyone of any age. Like many other mental health conditions, how mood disorders present in children and teens will look different than when they present in adults. One of the primary reasons for these differences is that children, adolescents, and some teens struggle to communicate their emotions and feelings adequately. This makes it difficult for parents, caregivers, and mental health providers at a treatment center like Hillcrest to understand their symptoms, determine if they struggle with a mood disorder, and design an effective treatment plan to address their symptoms. 


There is no singular cause for mood disorders or a specific factor that increases your teen’s risk for developing a mood disorder. Anyone is at risk for developing a mood disorder as they often arise from and are worsened by day-to-day challenges such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Although not the most common mental illness among adolescents and teens, mood disorders are more common across these age groups than many parents and caretakers may realize. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement show a lifetime prevalence of mood disorders in 13-18 year old’s at over 14%. The rate of occurrence was higher among 17-18 year old’s at 18.1%, but surprisingly high across most age brackets. Similar to many other mental health challenges, the rate of occurrence for mood disorders in teens is higher in females (18.3%) than in males (10.5). Of all teens who met the diagnostic criteria for a mood disorder as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Disorders, more than 11% suffered from a severe impairment resulting from their symptoms. 


Because “mood disorders” is a term to describe a range of mental health conditions, there are several types of mood disorders. While they share several symptoms, they also each exhibit unique symptoms based on the type of disorder. The most common mood disorders diagnosed in teens and adults include major depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, mood disorder linked to another health condition, and substance induced mood disorder. 


What is Substance Induced Mood Disorder? 

Substance induced mood disorder is a form of depression linked to the use of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications. Also referred to as medication-induced depression, a substance induced mood disorder name of the official diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). You may also hear the condition referred to as alcohol-induced depression or drug-induced depression. 


A period of feeling down or low is not uncommon after substance use. Many people experience a period of short-lived sadness or depression the morning after drinking or using drugs. In most cases, these unpleasant emotions fade in a relatively short time; however, for someone with substance induced mood disorder, the feelings of sadness and depression remain long after drinking and using. This may sound strange as many people turn to substances such as drugs or alcohol to reduce feelings of depression and sadness. Unfortunately, for someone with a substance induced mood disorder, the opposite occurs, and the use of drugs or alcohol leads to overwhelming and intense feelings of sadness of depression.


8 Things to Know About Substance Induced Mood Disorder

Substance induced mood disorders can be confusing. Although many people are familiar with depression, anxiety, and panic, many people do not realize that these symptoms can arise from drug and alcohol use. Below are a few other things you may not know about substance induced mood disorder.


The onset of symptoms is often very rapid

When your teen struggles with substance induced mood disorder, the onset of symptoms can occur immediately upon drug or alcohol use. In some cases, depression and anxiety begin while the individual is still high or intoxicated. In others, they may occur during withdrawal. It can be difficult to separate symptoms of substance induced mood disorder from symptoms related to withdrawal, as depression and anxiety are common withdrawal symptoms. The best way to tell the difference is that with “typical” depression, the symptoms often resolve within a few days. However, with substance induced mood disorder, symptoms may begin during withdrawal but will continue to worsen as they move through the detox process. 


Diagnosis is sometimes complicated

As noted above, it can be challenging to distinguish substance induced mood disorders from symptoms experienced as part of a mental health condition or withdrawal from substances. For mental health professionals to diagnose substance induced depressive disorder or substance induced mood disorder, the symptoms of depression (or other mood disturbances) must be unrelated to another mood disorder or disruption and mood. Because it can be difficult to separate the symptoms of one condition from another, a thorough clinical evaluation is often required to ensure an accurate diagnosis.


It can arise from many substances

Substance induced mood disorders can arise from a wide range of substances. Common examples include alcohol, hallucinogens, inhalants, sedatives, opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and hypnotics. There are even categories for other substance induced mood disorders or unknown substance induced mood disorders. Additionally, prescription medications can also cause substance induced mood disorders. Antibiotics, central nervous system depressants, chemotherapy drugs, and a range of others may lead to substance induced struggles.


Relapse is a risk

As with addiction, relapse is a potential problem for individuals struggling with mood disorders related to substance use. Although recovery is possible, it is crucial to maintain abstinence from drugs or alcohol to continue recovery from mood disorder symptoms. If, after treatment is complete, your teen returns to using drugs or alcohol, it is possible that their mood disorder symptoms will return as well. Also, like other mental illnesses or substance use disorders, their symptoms could be significantly more intense and challenging to manage when they return.


Substance-induced mood disorder has complications 

Although substance induced mood disorder is a side effect of drug or alcohol use, the diagnosis itself also has side effects. The most significant complication or side effect typically found with substance induced mood disorders is suicide. Research shows that suicide attempts are more common in mood-related disorders caused by drug or alcohol use. One study published by the National Institutes of Health showed that suicide attempts are four times more likely when mood disorders are related to drug or alcohol use.


They are treatable 

Management of a substance induced mood disorder requires a multidisciplinary approach. This means involving a skilled team of therapists, medical providers, and family members to help your teen heal and recover. It is possible for someone struggling with a substance induced mood disorder to develop a major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder without comprehensive treatment. Treatment providers at Hillcrest understand the unique nature of substance induced mood disorders, especially in teens. Therefore, we know it is crucial to involve the family from the very beginning of the treatment planning process. It is also important to design a treatment plan based specifically on your team’s holistic needs.


Treatment is similar to other mood disorders

Treating substance induced mood disorders are similar to treatment for many dual diagnosis conditions. The most effective treatment programs will combine therapy and substance abuse counseling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing are two widely used forms of behavioral therapy used to address both mental health and substance use disorders. As part of treatment, your teen’s treatment team at Hillcrest will closely monitor their physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Unfortunately, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are a significant risk for someone struggling with substance induced mood disorder. Therefore, seeking help for your teen at a teen-focused treatment center where they can receive consistent, compassionate support and guidance as they begin their journey to recovery is vital for their health and safety.


Statistics (prevalence rates) are hard to determine

The mental health community has been aware of substance induced mood disorders for many years. As early as the 1950s, patients experienced mental health struggles with certain prescription medications. Unfortunately, because the symptoms of substance induced mood disorders vary widely and the number of substances that can produce mental health challenges is high, specific statistics on the prevalence of substance induced mood disorders are difficult to define.  Although co-occurring disorders involving drugs and alcohol and a co-occurring mental health condition are common, some research indicates that the prevalence of alcohol induced depression is low. It is also important to point out that some studies show that incidences of substance induced depression are frequently misdiagnosed. Therefore, your teen needs to participate in a comprehensive intake evaluation with the therapy provider at Hillcrest before beginning a treatment program. It is crucial to understand their current mental health and substance use symptoms to ensure the best treatment model is used to help them heal.


At Hillcrest, our mental health and medical support staff are skilled in helping teens, and their families navigate the challenging environment of mental health and substance use disorder treatment. We understand it is difficult for parents to consider sending their children to a “strange” environment to receive the help they need to overcome mental health symptoms. However, it is crucial to choose a treatment center like Hillcrest where therapy providers understand the unique nature of teen-focused treatment and care. If you would like to learn more about how Hillcrest can help your teen recover from substance induced mood disorder or another mental health struggle, contact our admissions team today. At our beautiful Southern California teen-focused rehab, we are here to provide the care and support your teen needs to begin a journey towards lasting health and wellness.