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Deepika’s Descent – Drug Use and Depression

Dr. Hira Tanveer

3 min read

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In the latest development in the Bollywood drug nexus, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), on Wednesday summoned actresses Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan and Rakul Preet Singh among others for questioning. The NCB, which began the probe after a drugs angle came to light in connection with actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s alleged suicide, has now widened its investigation and asked these `A-list’ celebrities of the Mumbai film industry to “join the probe,” said an official. And now Kangana Ranaut, who from quite some time speaking about the prevalence of drugs in the industry has spoken up on the latest update.

Taking to Twitter, Kangana wrote, “Finally for the first time Bullywood mafia wishing that Sushant wasn’t killed and Kangana wasn’t pushed against the wall, for the first time they are regretting their cruelty, sadism and silence. For the first time they are wishing they could turn back time and bring us back.” Soon after Deepika’s drugs chats asking for ‘hash’ came out, the ‘Fashion’ actress was quick to respond and wrote, “Repeat after me, depression is a consequence of drug abuse. So-called high society rich star children who claim to be classy and have a good upbringing ask their manager,” MAAL HAI KYA?”

This came as a response to Deepika’s tweet which she made soon after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.

However, the link between depression and substance abuse is far more nuanced than Kangana claimed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, data indicates a connection between mood disorders like depression and substance abuse, with those diagnosed with a mood disorder being twice as likely to abuse substances than a person without a mood disorder. In fact, substance abuse can be categorized as a mental health condition as well. Moreover, marijuana is not even a hard drug that causes addiction. But people are unaware of the links between drug use and depression.

Which comes first? It is tough to say. he results vary from person to person. Some people develop alcoholism or drug addiction first while others develop depression first. First and foremost, a person who abuses a substance may develop depression. For instance, the person may abuse a substance, become addicted, and eventually, it affects their life negatively. These effects may contribute to developing depression.

A study published in the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. Library of Medicine notes that alcohol can induce depression. It alters the levels of serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolites to lowered levels, as indicated by a study on rats, some of which preferred alcohol. Humans with an alcohol dependence problem have lower levels of serotonin and metabolites in their cerebrospinal fluid. In the study, researchers intervened and provided the rats with low serotonin levels with a method to increase these rates. When the rats’ serotonin levels rose, their symptoms of depression tended to decrease.

On the other hand, people who have depression may abuse a substance in an effort to self-medicate and treat the problem. Typically, this is only a temporary solution, as the substance abuse worsens the depression over time. Drug or alcohol dependency can cause a great deal of hardships across all spectrums of life, and ultimately, these hardships worsen the person’s depression.

The “comedown” from cocaine and other stimulants oftentimes worsen the initial depression. Cannabis has been linked to a decrease in depression; however, it’s only effective in small amounts since large doses may worsen the symptoms of depression.

Both mental illness and drug and alcohol use disorders have many similar underlying causes. For example, genetics play a role in depression and substance abuse. Stanford School of Medicine’s Douglas F. Levison, MD, and Walter E. Nichols, MD, state that there’s a direct connection between depression and heredity, with 40-50 percent of the cause of depression being linked to heredity. Additionally, a person who has a parent or sibling with depression is about 2-3 times more likely to develop depression than the average person.

Mental illnesses and addiction both stem from issues within the brain. When a person is vulnerable to one type of brain disease, the individual may be vulnerable to other mental conditions as well. Both addiction and mental health disorders affect the same molecules, chemicals, and pathways in the brain. For instance, Mental Health Daily indicates that dopamine levels may be lower in individuals who have depression. Abusing certain substances alters the amount of dopamine in the brain as well. A prime example is cocaine, which stimulates an increase in dopamine activity.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most commonly associated with depression and other mood disorders. The serotonin transporter tends to be different in individuals who suffer from alcoholism. Dysfunctional reward pathways occur in people who have certain mental health conditions, and those who abuse cocaine appear to have a dysfunction within the reward pathways.

Childhood stress and trauma put a person more at risk for both substance use disorders and depression. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation declares that a relationship between depression in adulthood and childhood trauma exists; however, further research is needed to determine the reason why the vulnerability for depression occurs in these individuals. Childhood trauma and stress may be triggered by the following events:

  • Death of a parent at a young age
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Domestic violence

Stress is a risk factor for depression, regardless of a person’s age. The body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which acts on the corticotropin-releasing factor and stimulates symptoms similar to depression in animals. Moreover, clinical studies indicate levels of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin are lower as a result of childhood stress, and this particular hormone affects a person’s level of bonding and trust. The hippocampus area of the brain plays a role in memory and emotion and tends to be smaller in those who have chronic stress.

One study conducted on depressed women showed that those who experienced childhood trauma had a small hippocampus while those without childhood trauma had a normal-sized hippocampus. Per the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, several studies show that children who have undergone trauma, experience regular stress, or have post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to abuse substances. In fact, these studies indicated that 25-76 percent of individuals with childhood trauma began abusing substances to cope with intense emotions. Research has even indicated that it’s difficult for individuals with childhood stress to stop using because the negative thoughts recur after stopping the substance.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a mental health issue, you should consult with a psychologist at your earliest. You can book an appointment with a psychologist in Islamabad, Karachi or Lahore via oladoc.com or by calling at 042-38900939.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Hira Tanveer - Author Dr. Hira Tanveer is an MBBS doctor and currently serving at CMH Lahore. Writing is her favorite hobby as she loves to share professional advice on trendy healthcare issues, general well-being, healthy diet, and lifestyle.
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