Mood Disorders Caused by Illicit Drugs


Substance induced mood disorders are categorized as a distinct group of disorders that are a direct result of use of substance. They may result either due to consumption or withdrawal of a substance such as alcohol or illicit drugs. Substance induced disorders can also co-occur with some independent mental disorder. These disorders manifest in a variety of ways, ranging from a mild depression to a severe full blown manic episodes. The symptoms of mood disorders caused by some drug can be predicted by the action of that particular drug. For instance, if a drug has anti-depressant effect, its resulting mood disorder will be hyper-reactivity and agitation. In contrast, if a person is taking some type of stimulant, the resulting mood disorder will be depression.

The severity of substance induced mood disorders can be estimated by the duration of that substance abuse. The clinical condition may manifest itself differently in people who consume more than one drug at the same time. The resolution of symptoms depends on the properties of the substance. The symptoms may fade away within some weeks in some cases, and may leave some long lasting effects in others.

How Do the Illicit Drugs Cause Mood Disorders?

Our mood patterns and social behaviors are controlled by the special brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. The chronic use of these drugs causes the alteration in the levels of neurotransmitters that result in mood disorders. Some of the drugs increase the stimulating chemicals and the person ‘feels high’. The other drugs cause a reduction in the levels of depressive chemicals, which again excite the person. The withdrawal of these drugs again causes an imbalance in neurotransmitters as the chemicals embark on to going back to their natural quantities and the affected person becomes depressed and distorted.

What Substances Can Cause Mood Disorders?

There is a long list of drugs that can culminate in mood related psychological effects. These also include the therapeutic as well as the illicit or prohibited drugs. We will focus on substance related disorders particularly pertaining to illicit drugs in the coming paragraphs. Following are the main drugs that can lead to mood disorders of varying intensity and duration:

• Alcohol
• Cocaine
• Nicotine
• Marijuana
• Opium
• Heroin