Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

What is substance-induced mood disorder?

Substance-induced mood disorder is a change in the way you think, feel, or act, caused by taking or stopping a drug. These changes in your mood can last days or weeks.

Medicines and illegal drugs can cause you to be depressed, or to have too much energy and have trouble controlling your actions (mania). If you had these symptoms before you started using the drug, even if the drug makes your symptoms worse, it is not considered a substance-induced mood disorder.

What is the cause?

The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Without the right balance of these chemicals, there may be problems with the way you think, feel, or act. Many drugs change the amounts of these chemicals.

Some drugs can cause mood problems while you are taking them. Other drugs can cause mood problems for several weeks after you stop taking them. Drugs and medicines that can cause mood problems include:

  • Alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine and LSD
  • Nonprescription medicines such as some decongestants
  • Prescription medicines such as those to treat heart problems, high blood pressure, antianxiety medicines, antidepressants, pain medicines, and others

What are the symptoms?

You may have symptoms of depression or mania, or you may have symptoms of both at different times. The symptoms may start while you are taking the drugs or within a few days after you stop taking them.

Depression symptoms

  • Feel sad and uninterested in things you usually enjoy
  • Have trouble falling asleep, wake up very early, or sleep too much
  • Have changes in your appetite and weight, either up or down
  • Have low energy
  • Lose sexual desire
  • Feel worthless and guilty
  • Not be able to concentrate or remember things
  • Feel hopeless or just not care about anything
  • Have physical symptoms, such as headaches and joint pain
  • Think often about death or suicide

Mania symptoms

  • Have a very high sense of self-worth and a feeling of being “on top of the world”
  • Be very talkative and talk so fast that others have trouble following what you are saying
  • Have racing thoughts and trouble concentrating
  • Be very restless
  • Have more feelings of anxiety and panic
  • Go for days with little or no sleep and not feel tired
  • Be very irritable and get into fights with others
  • Be extremely active and act recklessly, such as going on spending sprees or having unsafe sex

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often you use nonprescription, prescription, and illegal drugs. Be honest about the medicines and drugs you use. Your provider needs this information to give you the right treatment. He will also ask about your symptoms, medical history and give you a physical exam. You may have tests or scans to help make a diagnosis.

How is it treated?

See your healthcare provider if you believe that a medicine may be causing changes in your mood. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a change in medicine or treatment for your symptoms. Do not change the dosage or stop taking any prescribed medicine unless your healthcare provider has given you instructions to do so.

Drug abuse and dependence can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, you must want to stop using drugs. Do not try to use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help you get through withdrawal.

Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, support groups, and therapy may be helpful. You might be treated in a substance abuse treatment program. Your healthcare providers and counselors will work with you to develop a treatment program.


Substance-induced mood disorder can be treated with either group or individual therapy. Therapy in a group with other people who have substance abuse problems is often very helpful. In some cases, medicines for depression or anxiety may help you to stop substance abuse. Discuss the options with your healthcare provider or therapist.

Other Treatments

Learning ways to relax may help. Yoga and meditation may also be helpful. You may want to talk with your healthcare provider about using these methods along with medicines and therapy.

Claims have been made that certain herbal and dietary products help control cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Supplements are not tested or standardized and may vary in strengths and effects. They may have side effects and are not always safe. Before you take any supplement, talk with your healthcare provider.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Get support. Talk with family and friends. Consider joining a support group in your area.
  • Learn to manage stress. Ask for help at home and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax, for example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.
  • Take care of your physical health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Limit caffeine. If you smoke, quit. Don’t use alcohol and drugs. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Avoid situations where people are likely to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Check your medicines. To help prevent problems, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all of the medicines, natural remedies, vitamins, and other supplements that you take. Take all medicines as directed by your provider or therapist. It is very important to take your medicine even when you are feeling and thinking well. Without the medicine, your symptoms may not improve or may get worse. Talk to your provider if you have problems taking your medicine or if the medicines don’t seem to be working.
  • Contact your healthcare provider or therapist if you have any questions or your symptoms seem to be getting worse.

Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or self-harm, violence, or harming others. For more information, contact:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-08-28
Last reviewed: 2013-05-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

myTuftsMed is our new online patient portal that provides you with access to your medical information in one place. MyTuftsMed can be accessed online or from your mobile device providing a convenient way to manage your health care needs from wherever you are.

With myTuftsMed, you can:

  1. View your health information including your medications, test results, scheduled appointments, medical bills even if you have multiple doctors in different locations.
  2. Make appointments at your convenience, complete pre-visit forms and medical questionnaires and find care or an emergency room.
  3. Connect with a doctor no matter where you are.
  4. Keep track of your children’s and family members’ medical care, view upcoming appointments, book visits and review test results.
  5. Check in on family members who need extra help, all from your private account.


Your privacy is important to us. Learn more about ourwebsite privacy policy. X