Can You Be Addicted to Depression? Insights into Emotional Attachment

Can you be addicted to depression? Get some valuable insights into emotional attachment from We Level Up Washington. Reach out to us for help and support.


Feeling blue or having a rough day is one thing, and a profound and persistent drain on energy, hope, and motivation is another. Depression blurs the line between the internal and external worlds. It makes everyday tasks feel too hard. We Level Up Washington will explain to you what depression is and what it means to be addicted to depression.

What Is Depression?

When you are depressed, you feel, think, and act differently. You feel sad persistently, you are pessimistic, and you feel hopeless. Also, you might have trouble thinking and concentrating. Depression is a serious mood disorder. To be diagnosed with depression at depression treatment centers in Washington State, you must have the symptoms for two weeks.

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How to Know If You Have Depression

There are some general differences between how men and women experience depression. Usually, signs of depression in men don’t include crying or sadness. Instead, they are:

  • Irritability and anger: Quick to anger and frustration, often over small or insignificant issues.
  • Loss of Interest: Losing interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Sleep disturbances: Trouble sleeping, insomnia, or sleeping too much.
  • Physical pain: Experiencing increased physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, and muscle aches.
  • Fatigue: Feeling extremely tired and lacking energy, even without significant physical exertion.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors: More likely to engage in risky activities like reckless driving, unsafe sex, or excessive drinking.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Struggling with focus and decision-making, which might affect performance at work.
  • Withdrawal: Pulling away from family and friends and spending more time alone.

Women might experience depression differently from men. Signs of depression in women are:

  • Persistent sadness: Feeling sad, empty, tearful, or hopeless more days than not.
  • Increased sensitivity: Reacting strongly to criticism or other emotional stimuli.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness: Excessive guilt and feelings that they are not good enough.
  • Changes in appetite and weight: Significant weight gain or loss, or changes in eating habits.
  • Sleeping too much or too little: Insomnia or oversleeping, especially waking early in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep.
  • Fatigue: Even with little activity, feeling drained and lacking energy.
  • Anxiety: Feeling tense, nervous, or unable to relax.
  • Physical symptoms: Experiencing headaches, muscle pain, or bloating.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Problems focusing or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide: Frequent or recurring thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts.
A depressed person
Persistent sadness is a sign of depression.

Stages of Depression

Depression can develop gradually. Here are the stages of depression and how they typically evolve:

  • Initial stage: Early symptoms may be mild and include low mood, general fatigue, and slight changes in sleeping or eating patterns. People might brush these off as stress or a temporary slump.
  • Moderate stage: Symptoms become harder to ignore. They might include increased irritability, persistent sadness, and withdrawal from social activities. Performance at work or school may start to suffer.
  • Severe stage: In this stage, symptoms are intense and can include profound feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of death or suicide, and possibly physical symptoms that are debilitating. Daily functioning is significantly impaired, requiring professional intervention.

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Depression in Washingon State

Between 2015 and 2019, depression rates across the United States increased a lot. Yet, the number of people seeking or receiving treatment didn’t keep pace. By 2020, the situation had escalated, with nearly one in ten Americans reporting depression over the past year.

In Washington State in 2016, about 12% of adults reported experiencing poor mental health for 14 or more days in the previous month, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

A person addicted to depression, lying on a sofa with a blue flower
Fear of change can make you feel like you are addicted to depression.

Can You Be Addicted to Depression?

The idea of being addicted to depression doesn’t mean you actually crave sadness in the same way as substances like alcohol or drugs. Instead, it suggests a psychological state where you become accustomed to being depressed. This can make other emotional states feel unfamiliar and even uncomfortable.

So, can you be addicted to being depressed? Yes. There are reasons you might feel addicted to depression, including:

  • Familiarity: Depression can become your familiar state. You can predict this feeling and feel it every day. This provides a strange comfort.
  • Identity: You might start seeing your depression as a part of who you are. You identify with the symptoms of depression that you might have trouble envisioning life without them.
  • Fear of change: The idea of moving away from depression means facing unknown challenges and emotions. This can be more intimidating.

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Holding Hands
Holding Hands

Mechanisms Behind the Addiction to Depression

Can you get addicted to being depressed? There are psychological and neurological factors that explain the mechanisms behind the addiction to depression.

Psychological factors are:

  • Negative thoughts: If you often have negative thoughts about yourself and your future, these can become a habit. It’s tough to shift these patterns because your mind gets used to thinking this way.
  • Behavioral reinforcement: Sometimes, actions like avoiding social interactions can seem helpful because they reduce social stress. However, these actions might be repeated because they provide temporary relief. Also, if you receive extra attention when you show signs of depression, this can make it even more likely that you’ll continue these behaviors.

Why is depression so addictive? There are many neurological factors:

  • Chemical imbalances: Depression involves changes in brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine that affect your mood. Your brain can get used to these changes, making it difficult to adapt to a new chemical balance.
  • Brain plasticity: If you’ve been depressed for a long time, your brain’s way of communicating between nerve cells might have changed, reinforcing a depressive state. This change makes it hard to escape the cycle of depression.
  • Reward system: Even though depression typically decreases pleasure, your brain’s reward system might still find some negative behaviors beneficial, reinforcing the cycle of depression.
A person sitting alone and hiding their face
Why is depression so addictive? Your brain’s reward system might find negative behaviors beneficial.

Implications and Dangers of Being Addicted to Depression

The concept of being “addicted” to depression, or becoming accustomed to depressive states, has significant implications for treatment, recovery, and everyday life.

First of all, there are effects on treatment and recovery. If you feel addicted to depression, you might resist treatment. This happens because you fear change. This makes you skip therapy sessions, not take prescribed medications, and not engage in the treatment process. Also, there is a higher chance of relapse. This happens because you might return to depressive behaviors and thought patterns while stressed.

Being addicted to depression will impact your relationship, work, and life in general. Your depression may make it difficult for your loved ones to understand and cope with. In the workplace, chronic depression can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and difficulty fulfilling responsibilities. Living in a constant state of depression severely diminishes the quality of life. The person may experience chronic pain, fatigue, and a lack of pleasure or satisfaction in life. Over time, this can lead to a sense of hopelessness about the future and a belief that things will never improve.

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Treatment and Recovery for Depression in Washington State

Can you feel addicted to being depressed? Yes. It might complicate things. However, depression is treatable. Washington centers provide comprehensive care, which may include:

  • Counseling and psychotherapy: Many centers offer individual, group, and family therapy options. Techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are common and effective.
  • Medication management: Psychiatrists at these centers can prescribe and manage medications that help alleviate the symptoms and solve your addiction to depression.
  • Integrated care programs: Some centers offer programs that integrate mental health treatment with other medical care, addressing the whole person and not just the symptoms of depression.
A young mother experiencing postpartum depression
We use medication to treat postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression Medication

Often, postpartum depression medication is used to treat depression that may occur after giving birth. Here are five common examples of these medications:

  • SSRIs: Drugs like sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro) increase serotonin to improve mood and reduce depression symptoms.
  • SNRIs: Venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) boost both serotonin and norepinephrine, helping to improve mood.
  • Benzodiazepines: For severe anxiety or insomnia, lorazepam (Ativan) or clonazepam (Klonopin) are used as sedatives to calm and aid sleep.
  • Atypical Antipsychotics: Aripiprazole (Abilify) or quetiapine (Seroquel) are used for severe symptoms, like psychosis or agitation, helping to regulate mood.
  • Hormone therapy: If hormonal imbalances are present, estrogen replacement therapy may be considered to help restore balance and ease symptoms.

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Postpartum Depression Treatment Programs

In addition to medication, look for reliable postpartum depression treatment programs. There are counseling sessions specific to new mothers. They address the unique challenges of motherhood. Also, you can find peer support groups. Here, you can share experiences and strategies with others facing similar challenges.

Seek Help and Move Forward

Can you get addicted to being depressed? It can happen. Depression can feel safer than new emotional states. Also, there are psychological and neurological factors that can make depression persist. It is important to stay informed on this matter and recognize that depression is impacting your life negatively. When you understand this, you should look for professional support. It might include professional counseling, support from loved ones, and possibly medication. Take action. Seek help and start improving the quality of life today.

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Sources

Goodwin, Renee D., et al. “Trends in U.S. Depression Prevalence from 2015 to 2020: The Widening Treatment Gap.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 63, no. 5, 1 Nov. 2022, pp. 726–733, www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(22)00333-6/fulltext, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2022.05.014.

“2018 Washington State Health Assessment.” Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Health, doh.wa.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/Documents/1000/SHA-MentalHealth.pdf.

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