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Mental Illness and Addiction: Types & Symptoms

Dual Diagnoses or co-occurring mental illnesses arise because individuals self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Here at the Executive Rehab Guide, we are committed to helping those battling mental health and drug or alcohol-related problems.

Call us today on 0808 1150 446.

59% of people with a mental illness have also been affected by substance abuse.

More often than not, addiction comes hand in hand with mental illness

Either you have turned to substance abuse as a coping mechanism for pre-existing mental conditions, or, mental illness arises as a result of addiction.

When someone is suffering from both mental health issues and substance abuse, they are referred to as having co-occurring problems, or a dual diagnosis.

Read more about the effects of mental health on addiction.

Some causes of dual diagnosis include:

  • Drinking alcohol to feel less anxious or numb emotional pain
  • Taking tranquilisers to avoid or stop panic attacks
  • Using stimulant drugs as a way to increase energy or motivation
  • Using drugs or alcohol to deal with emotional trauma (such as symptoms of PTSD or depression

Behavioural disorders:

Behavioural disorders are defined by a pattern of disruptive behaviours that can include lack of concentration, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

If left untreated, behavioural disorders can sometimes lead to defiant behaviour, criminal activity and serious and prolonged use of drugs and alcohol.

Below, we list the most common behavioural disorders and their symptoms.

If you, a family member or friend are suffering, then it is important to seek professional and medical advice.

Speak to a specialist today.

Mental health conditions

Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)

This particular behavioural disorder affects a person’s ability to focus and to control impulsivity. It can also cause the individual to become overactive.

Other symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Short attention span
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to carry out instructions
  • Difficulty with organisation

Those who suffer from ADHD might also be diagnosed with

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Epilepsy

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a form of behavioural disorder which affects the diet and appetite of an individual, along with mental health symptoms too.

There are a number of eating disorders:

  • Bulimia
  • Anorexia
  • Binge eating disorders

If you suspect that someone you love has an eating disorder, it is important to get them the help they need.

 There are various options available for treatment.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In most cases, PTSD develops following a traumatic event or period in your life. Symptoms vary widely depending on the individual but are often sub-categorised into groups of symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing: flashbacks, nightmares, traumatic images, pain and nausea
  • Emotional numbing: Avoiding talking to anyone about your experience to distance yourself from it
  • Hyper arousal: irritability, outbursts of anger, insomnia and lack of concentration


Depression is more than just feeling sad or lonely. It impacts your daily life, your actions and emotions.

Symptoms of depression vary depending on your individual situation; however here are some of the common signs of depression:

  • Feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy and feeling constantly tired
  • Self-doubt
  • Aches and pains

Anxiety and depression tend to come together sometimes. 

Anxiety Disorders:

Feeling anxious is a common emotion, and all people will feel a form of anxiousness in their lives.

However, suffering from anxiety means that it interferes with your daily lives, and will often cause insomnia, and affect productivity at work and school.

The following are types of anxiety disorder:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD changes the way you go about your daily life, and change the way you think and act.

Symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Unable to focus
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness and headache
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shaking and sweating
  • Insomnia

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterised by compulsive and repetitive behaviour despite realising the consequences of your actions.

OCD can include the following:

  • Fear of infection or disease
  • Need for order and tidiness
  • Compulsive behaviour such as constantly checking things, repeating words or asking for reassurance

How can behavioural disorders be treated?

If you are suffering from addiction and mental health issues, then it is important to seek professional medical care and treatment.

Every individual is important, so do not worry that your addiction might not be ‘bad enough’ or that you will get better on your own.

There is so much help and support out there for you, so do not suffer alone.

Treatment programmes for dual-diagnosis include:

Get in touch today

If you, a loved one, or colleague is struggling with mental illness, alcohol or drug misuse, then we are here to help.

Call our 24/7 helpline today on 0808 1150 446.