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Four Common Co-Occurring Disorders in Women

Jul 1, 2020

It’s likely if you’ve been doing your research on addiction treatment options, you are familiar with the term “co-existing disorders.” Two disorders, one of substance use and one of mental health, are not rare in women, yet many women have only received treatment for one disorder and not the other. Today, let’s look at some of the most common co-occurring disorders for women with a substance use disorder, and why true dual diagnosis treatment is essential in beginning behavioral recovery.

Four of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders in women with a substance use disorder are post-traumatic stress disorders, major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. Dual diagnosis treatment at a facility offering programs for co-occurring disorders can be beneficial for women of all ages, and facilities with medical services are recommended as some disorders, many of which can lead to acute and chronic medical conditions. These conditions may include heart problems, malnutrition, and gastrointestinal issues.

It’s important to look at mental health and substance use disorders as separate things that exist at the same time in one person, with symptoms from both overlapping. In some people, one could have appeared sooner and contributed to the development of the other disorder. For our purposes here today, it’s not relevant which began first as we introduce four mental health disorders that commonly get diagnosed in women with a substance use disorder.


PTSD, caused by a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic experiences, is a familiar disorder for addiction specialists treating women with substance use disorders. The trauma may come from abusive acts by a parent, another family member, or a partner/spouse. Not addressing this trauma early with the help of professionals can lead to severe depression, self-harm, and self-medication through the abuse of prescription pills, the use of illegal drugs, or excessive consumption of alcohol.

PTSD can go undiagnosed for years in women. You may recognize some of the symptoms: emotional outbursts, dissociative mental experiences, involuntary thoughts about traumatic experiences, and more. If you’re experiencing PTSD along with a substance use disorder, look for a facility offering dual diagnosis treatment along with trauma therapies.


The trauma mentioned above can lead to depression in women, including major depressive disorders that interfere with your ability to function daily. Major depression can result in a loss of interest in people and activities you normally enjoy, an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, and a lack of self-care. Like PTSD, withdrawing from others to remain isolated for extended periods of time can be a sign of this kind of depression.

It’s helpful to be mindful of what behavior changes in yourself you see when feeling depressed. If you notice the onset of your depression coincides with an increased desire to drink or use drugs, dual diagnosis treatment can offer the path to recovery you need. A facility offering programs for co-occurring disorders is staffed by addiction specialists trained to work with patients like you.


Anxiety disorder can show up in a variety of ways with women. It can appear as an obsessive-compulsive behavior, a series of panic attacks, irrational fear, and in other forms. It can disrupt your sense of well-being and affect you at work and in relationships.

As with major depressive disorders and PTSD, you may notice your response to anxiety becomes to turn to drugs or alcohol, perhaps in high quantities, to “control” the feelings overwhelming you. An inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program with dual diagnosis treatment can help you begin addressing both your mental health and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Both options offer a group therapy element where you can work on your wellness with the support of women like you.


Mood disorders showing up in women with a substance use disorder can range from mild to severe. Bipolar disorder, with its notable shifts in mood and energy levels, is among the most recognizable of the mood disorders. The kind of drugs or alcohol used may differ depending on whether someone is feeling an emotional high or an emotional low and mood-stabilizing drugs already prescribed for a woman diagnosed with a bipolar disorder may get abused.

Similar to the disorders mentioned above, a mood disorder can increase a woman’s drug or alcohol use by frequency or amount. If you’re someone who responds to mood swings with substance use not prescribed by a physician, you may benefit from treatment for a co-occurring disorder. A facility offering physical and psychological assessments can determine if dual diagnosis treatment or is necessary for recovery.

Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned COD/co-existing disorder clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-952-5532, for dual-diagnosis disorder treatment in Texas.

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