Depression and Alcohol
Depression and alcohol
Depression and alcohol often to go hand in hand. It is all too common for many people to turn to alcohol when they are feeling down, or are overcome by distressing life events or circumstances. Unfortunately any perceived benefit of ‘drowning one’s sorrows’ will indeed be very temporary.
People who turn to alcohol as a method of coping or dealing with their own negative emotions can be creating long-term harm for themselves in the pursuit of short term relief. If drinking becomes habitual it can wreak havoc emotionally, physically and take its toll on family and work. It can also lead to or exacerbate chronic or ongoing depression (American Addiction Centers, n.d.).
Relating to the effects of alcohol, whether it to be to relax or celebrate, many lose their feelings of being bound or restricted. This relaxed feeling that occurs is due to the chemical changes occurring from the alcohol in the brain (Healthy Place, 2016). This effect has led numerous people to believe that ‘booze’ can help them lower their anxiety and depression, improve overall confidence and help them to relax.
Alcohol is in fact a depressant, not an anti-depressant (Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018). It actually depresses the portion of the brain that is most responsible for conscious thought. This explains why it is then easier to forget one’s immediate problems for the moment, as unwanted feelings and emotions are temporarily suppressed. As a person drinks more and more alcohol, different areas of the brain become affected. Instead of experiencing more happy feelings, it is common for negative emotional responses including depression, anxiety and anger to take over.
Of course once the alcohol-induced state has passed, the problems remain. Nothing changes in this regard, not for the better anyway. Often there is an increase in the magnitude of problems, and too often accompanied by remorse. This then adds to the emotional burdens being dealt with, increasing the symptoms and feelings of depression, and the cycle continues.
If this roller-coaster behaviour becomes a habit, it is usual that both alcoholic consumption and symptoms of depression increase. Again, this adds pressure to family, social and work relationships. Such pressure contributes to the symptoms associated with depression.
People who drink heavily on a consistent basis could be at a much higher risk of developing depression symptoms. Alcohol can alter brain chemistry, including lowering the serotonin levels within the brain. Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals that aids in regulating moods. Heavy alcohol use lowers serotonin levels, and low serotonin is a cause of depression (Healthy Place, 2016).
Alcohol, once consumed, causes chemical imbalances that the body must then work hard to metabolize to reduce its damage to the body and the brain. Mulling through through the effects a hangover is also not conducive to feelings of happiness and wellness.
Relationships, including those at work, can be negatively affected, either by the alcohol drinking or the associated depression. These relationship issues add even more fuel to the fire and so the vicious cycle escalates. Using alcohol to mask symptoms of depression is very common. Avoiding confronting the problem directly is almost as common, particularly with males. When seeking temporary feelings of relief from problems becomes habitual, sought for and longed for, there is a problem. Depression and alcohol combined poses a huge problem.
Help and support is available, but it requires personal courage and usually support from loved ones. It is in the interests of both the person misusing alcohol, and others affected by the effects of habitual drinking to get help. Too many lives and relationships have been damaged and even destroyed by the twin problems of depression and alcohol.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation Australia, (2018). Alcohol. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/alcohol/
American Addiction centers, (n.d). Can alcohol induce depression? Retrieved June 26, 2018 from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/depression/
Healthy Place, (2016). The chemical effects of alcohol on the depressed brain. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2016/07/the-chemical-effects-of-alcohol-on-the-depressed-brain[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]