How can stimulants affect someone who is depressed?

Stimulants are substances that activate our central nervous system, giving us more energy - but it's not a long-term fix for depression. In this video, I will discuss why stimulants are only a short-term solution.
Two stimulant drugs are in common use:

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, many carbonated beverages, and some medications. It is a mild stimulant and has low toxicity, though addiction and side effects, such as changes in heart rhythm, can occur at high doses.

Nicotine is found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco. It also has a mild stimulant effect but is rapidly addicting. Nicotine itself causes few physiologic problems, but the method of its delivery leads to cancers and chronic heart and lung disease, in addition to an increased risk of cancer and lung disease for others in the user's immediate environment (effects of secondhand smoking or side-stream smoking).

Illegal stimulants include various forms of amphetamine and cocaine. These substances temporarily make users feel good (high) by increasing the release of up, or excitatory, neurotransmitters in the brain. However, the supply of these up neurotransmitters is eventually depleted. This suddenly results in a relative overabundance of the down neurotransmitter, which cannot be counteracted. The drug user crashes and feels suddenly more depressed than ever! The depressive feelings are so severe that cocaine and amphetamine users often seek to reduce their drug-induced lows by taking other drugs such as marijuana and alcohol. The resulting polypharmacy makes for increased potential health risks, side effects and negative consequences on the user's life and on society.

Here are some of the effects of stimulants:
  • Use of stimulant substances increases the risk of heart attacks and irregular heartbeat, strokes, asthma attacks and seizures, depending on dose and method of administration.
  • All of these substances, such as nicotine, are rapidly addicting. As in the case of alcohol, the primary focus of the addict's life becomes the seeking of the drug and, as a consequence, all relationships and activities suffer dramatically, eventually worsening all aspects of the addicted person's life.
  • All of these substances also reduce judgment and inhibitions, as in the case of alcohol, leading to a potential risk of accidents and to violent or other socially dysfunctional behavior.

Continue Learning about Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living with depression can feel like a challenge, but with the right tools, you can learn to successfully manage your condition. It's important to follow the recommendations of your primary healthcare provider, take any depression ...

medication as prescribed and utilize the social supports around you. It's also important to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and keep track of your depression symptoms.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.