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Dual Diagnosis – Common Mental Health Disorders That Co-Occur

If you or someone close to you is dealing with a dual diagnosis treatment, it’s essential to know the appropriate treatments. Without proper management of both disorders, symptoms may worsen over time.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), integrated care is the most effective approach for treating coexisting disorders.

1. Depression

Dual diagnosis, also referred to as coexisting disorder or comorbidity, refers to the simultaneous presence of two or more mental health disorders.

Depression is the most widespread mental illness, affecting 6% of Americans.

People suffering from depression often turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of their illness. Unfortunately, this could lead to addiction, further compounding the already existing mental illness.

Thankfully, much research has been done on treating these disorders, making it possible for those struggling with them to find recovery. If you or someone close to you is dealing with a comorbid mental health and substance abuse condition, North Jersey Recovery Center offers guidance and support today.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is a widespread mental health disorder that can cause intense nervousness, fear or worry. It may also manifest physical symptoms such as shaking or sweating.

Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, life history and environmental stressors. It’s particularly prevalent among those who have experienced traumatic events like childhood abuse.

3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Dual diagnosis refers to an individual who has both mental health disorders and substance abuse problems. To achieve success in treatment, both conditions must be addressed simultaneously.

Many individuals with mental illness and substance use disorder go untreated or are misdiagnosed, leading to the worsening of their underlying condition and increased likelihood of relapse.

4. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, causes profound changes to moods, energy levels and thoughts. These shifts can have serious repercussions for individuals and their families and may result in self-harm, substance use or suicide attempts.

Psychotherapy and medications can help alleviate symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Patients also learn how to better manage their condition, such as recognizing triggers and anticipating episodes.

5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with Depression

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted thoughts, ideas or feelings which can cause people to experience anxiety, upset or depressed. They may feel compelled to perform repetitive and ritualistic behaviors in an effort to alleviate their stress levels.

These behaviors may include hand washing/cleaning, checking, counting and other ritualistic acts. OCD symptoms can be overwhelming, making it difficult for sufferers to function and lead normal lives.

6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that may coexist with depression. Individuals living with ADHD typically struggle to remain focused and may struggle with managing their own and others’ schedules, as well as remembering details about tasks.

It is unknown what causes ADHD, but it is thought to be a brain disorder that interferes with information processing. Signs include inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

7. Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a widespread mental health condition that can have an immense impact on someone’s quality of life. It’s marked by frequent, unexpected panic attacks that feel overwhelming.

Panic disorder can be treated through psychotherapy and medications. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and tricyclic antidepressants are two treatments commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms.

8. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In many cases, PTSD and substance use disorders coexist. This is likely due to brain chemistry differences between them as well as similar environmental triggers that can contribute to either disorder’s emergence.

Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can include nightmares, flashbacks and feelings of numbness or avoidance. Therapy and medication may be used in combination to treat PTSD; cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are two treatments commonly utilized to help people cope with their symptoms.

9. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects approximately 8% of children and teenagers. Symptoms include difficulty paying attention as well as being hyperactive or impulsive.

Treatment for ADHD typically includes behavioral therapy and stimulant medications. Unfortunately, addiction is a very real possibility among those taking prescription stimulants.


Research has demonstrated that substance abuse can exacerbate mental health disorders like ADHD. Dual diagnosis treatment centers are designed to address both conditions simultaneously, providing a complete recovery for individuals with coexisting disorders.