Depression is one of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders seen among people who use meth. Fortunately, dual diagnosis treatment is available.

Article at a Glance:

  • Meth use may lead to depression; conversely, depression may lead to meth use and other risky behaviors.
  • While it can be challenging to live with meth addiction and co-occurring depression, both conditions can be managed with proper treatment.
  • Attempts to treat depression without treating meth use, or vice versa, are often unsuccessful.
  • People who struggle with meth addiction may be using meth to mask depressive symptoms, so dual diagnosis treatment is key.

The Relationship Between Meth and Depression

Long-term methamphetamine use can lead to a variety of different mental health disorders. In particular, depression is one of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders seen among people who use meth. Chronic meth abuse can also cause symptoms of psychological illness, such as alternating moods of mania and depression.

Can Meth Cause Depression?

There is a strong correlation between depression symptoms and meth use, but researchers are still determining whether meth use leads to depression. One study found that approximately 10.6% of participants had amphetamine-induced mood disorders. Another study of female meth users indicated that 60% met the criteria for moderate to severe depressive disorder, while 40% scored in the mild range for depression.

Meth abuse and depression together can create a cycle of hopelessness and euphoria. A person with depression may use drugs like meth as a way to cope with depression-related symptoms. However, meth can also lead to states of depression when a person is coming down from a high or experiencing withdrawal.

Dopamine levels can become severely depleted in the brain with chronic meth use, impairing the ability to experience pleasure. Because the brain isn’t producing these pain-relieving and euphoric chemicals, depressive feelings may emerge when meth use stops.

Depression After Meth Use

Psychological withdrawal symptoms are common when quitting meth, and they can be especially challenging. Their severity will be affected by factors like:

  • The length of time the person used meth
  • The amount taken
  • The presence of other medical conditions or additional drug use

After a person’s last dose of meth, it takes up to five days for the drug to completely leave their system. Mood begins to shift dramatically around four to 16 hours after taking the last dose.

Meth both raises dopamine levels and destroys dopamine receptors in the brain. After stopping meth use, a person may find themselves unable to feel pleasure. Feelings of depression may emerge as the brain struggles to cope without the chemical surges it has become accustomed to. Things that used to bring the person joy may lose their appeal as these feelings linger.

Additional psychological withdrawal symptoms may include:

These symptoms can be severe and may last for weeks. However, feelings of depression can persist much longer.

Co-Occurring Depression and Meth Addiction Treatment

Untreated meth use or depression can interfere with treatment outcomes. This is why it’s important to find a recovery center that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses both drug addiction and mental health disorders at the same time.

Some features of depression, such as isolation and lack of motivation, make it difficult to participate in recovery activities without professional assistance. Meth addiction and co-occurring depression can also increase the possibility of self-harming behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Combined treatment that uses effective medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy and a supportive aftercare plan can address these concerns and increase the chances of recovery from both disorders.

Meth addiction treatment usually begins with a comprehensive detox process. During detox, patients eliminate meth and other drugs from their system while doctors treat any uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. After detox is complete, patients typically transition to a rehab setting and attend ongoing meth addiction treatment. When depression is also present, treatment should address the psychological damage done by meth and help patients learn how to cope with their symptoms without substances.

Find Help for Depression and Meth Use

If you struggle with meth addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition, you need comprehensive treatment that addresses both disorders. The Recovery Village offers treatment and support for co-occurring disorders that can help you recover from meth addiction and other mental health concerns. Contact us to speak to a representative and begin the recovery process today.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Paula Holmes
Medically Reviewed By – Paula Holmes, LCSW
Paula Holmes is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and freelance writer who lives and works in midcoast Maine. She received her master's degree in Social Work in 2008 from the University of Maine. Read more

Salo, Ruth; et al. “Psychiatric comorbidity in methamphetamine dependence.” Psychiatry Research, 2011. Accessed October 29, 2021.

Boileau, Isabelle; et al. “Rapid Recovery of Vesicular Dopamine Lev[…] in Early Abstinence.” Neuropsychopharmacology, 2016. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Semple, S.J., et al. “Psychosocial and behavioral correlates o[…]ethamphetamine users.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, November 2007. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.