Addiction and depression are frequently coupled together in many people, as many people may attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, but find instead that their drug use ends up actually intensifying their symptoms of depression, creating a very dangerous and ineffective cycle. When seeking legitimate and supervised treatment for depression, it is especially important to strive for sobriety, because anti-depressant medication can pose a number of bad effects if is coupled with drug use.
1) Some additive substances can further, cause, or intensify depressive symptoms, in effect neutralizing the anti-depressant.
Alcohol, for example, is a depressant. Although it may seem to you that drinking improves your mood, the reality is that the slowing down of your nervous system can make a depression feel worse. You can imagine how taking both a "depressant," and an "anti-depressant" will cause your medication to be wasted, since it ends up fighting the effect of the other substance, instead of truly brining your brain chemistry back to healthy and functioning levels.
For this reason, it's generally advisable that people struggling with depression avoid alcohol all together, since, at best, it will keep the anti-depressant from helping you heal, and at worse, it may worsen and complicate your mental illness.
2) Alternately, taking an anti-depressant with some drugs that have similar effects will end up intensifying both substances, "over medicating" to dangerous levels.
For example, some anti-depressant medications are Monamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs. These drugs lower the level of neurotransmitters that produce anxious or overpowering strong emotions, and instead raising the level of serotonin, bringing feelings of peacefulness and well-being.
However, if you take another drug that is having similar effects on brain chemistry, such as cocaine or ecstasy, both drugs will couple together, which could create an extremely life threatening situation called hypertensive reaction, as your body gets too "amped up" and unable to function. Symptoms of hypertensive reaction include severe headaches, fever, disorientation, sweating, blurred vision, seizures, chest pain, nausea, strokes, and coma.
3) Multiple drugs taken together can interact, sometimes leading to unexpected and dangerous side effects.
When taking multiple drugs of any type, there is going to be some chemical reactions that can sometimes affect the body in unknown and unpredictable ways. What might be a minor side effect with one drug taken alone can increase in both affect and likelihood if two drugs interact with each other.
For example, both marijuana and antidepressants can cause side effects such as abnormally fast heartbeats, dizziness, anxiety, and drowsiness, so taking them together will increase the danger significantly.
4) Drug use can alter your consciousness and reasoning ability, causing you to stop treatment inappropriately.
Under the impaired thinking and reasoning ability of your addiction, it can be easy to think that you are fine. It is easy to mistake the comfort and high you receive from a "fix" for true healing from a mental illness.
This might cause you to stop treatment for depression, and skip your medication without consulting a trained medical professional. However, not taking an anti-depressant can sometimes pose serious withdraw effects, including anxiety, mood swings, aggression, flu, insomnia, nausea, and stomach cramping.
When taking anti-depressants, it is vitally important you follow the instructions of your psychologist, and consult him or her before independently withdrawing.
5) Antidepressants can themselves replicate addictive patterns
Antidepressants are not themselves considered addictive, since they don't produce feelings of craving or encourage impulsive use. However, they can develop a sense of dependency and of tolerance, and unpleasant withdraw symptoms can sometimes result if you try to stop independently.
These drugs need to be taken with careful care, under the exact instructions of a doctor, which, a pattern very different from the relationship addicts have with their substance of choice. Taking anti-depressants at high levels or irresponsible times can result in many harmful side effects, and need to be carefully managed.