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A review of the neurobiological underpinning of comorbid substance use and mood disorders

journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by Nieves Gómez-Coronado, Rickinder Sethi, Chiara BortolasciChiara Bortolasci, Lauren Arancini, Michael BerkMichael Berk, Seetal DoddSeetal Dodd
BACKGROUND: There is evidence that substance use disorders and other mental disorders may have shared biological mechanisms. However, the neurobiological basis of this comorbidity remains only partially explained. This review describes the historical evolution of the dual disorders concept and approach, and reviews the existing literature on neurobiological findings specifically regarding comorbid substance use and mood disorders. METHODS: Searches were conducted using PubMed and Scopus in December 2017. A Boolean search was performed using combinations of "dual diagnosis" or "dual disorder" or "depression" or "bipolar" or "affective disorder" or "mood disorder" and "substance use" or "substance abuse" and "neurobiology" or "functional neuroimaging" or "genetics" or "neurotransmitters" or "neuroendocrinology" in the title or abstract, or as keywords, using no language restriction. RESULTS: 32 studies met the inclusion criteria. We found robust evidence for involvement of the neurotransmitters dopamine, GABA and glutamate and their receptors, as well as by the central corticotrophin-releasing hormone, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation, oxidative stress and inflammation. Recent studies focusing on neuroimaging and genetics have not shown consistent results. LIMITATIONS: Only two search tools were used; most identified studies excluded the population of interest (comorbid mood and substance abuse disorders). CONCLUSIONS: The neurobiological relevance for the occurrence of comorbid mood and substance abuse disorders has not been fully elucidated. Considering the high levels of individuals who experience comorbidity in these areas as well as the negative associated outcomes, this is clearly an area that requires further in-depth investigation. Furthermore, findings from this area can help to inform drug abuse prevention and intervention efforts, and especially how they relate to populations with psychiatric symptoms.



Journal of affective disorders




388 - 401




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Elsevier