How Alcohol Affects Depression
Depression is a mental health disorder that can affect anyone at any time. The symptoms vary in severity and can make life difficult for those who suffer from them. Severe symptoms can be crippling. Many people who have depression struggle with daily responsibilities that can lead to poor job performance, financial problems, and social isolation. Many people who suffer from depression may use alcohol to escape the relentless and endless mental anguish. However, alcohol is a depressant causing drinking to worsen symptoms of depression and increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder or addiction.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is debilitating, paralyzing, and can make those who experience it feel hopeless and lonely. People with depression may decline invitations to social events and family gatherings. Depression makes people disengage from things that they once enjoyed. It also interferes with relationships and can distort a person’s reality. It causes health problems, affects nutrition, disrupts sleep patterns, and leads to decreased work productivity.
Depression increases feelings of self-doubt, lowers confidence, and tears apart spiritual wellness. Symptoms of depression can include unrelenting sadness and anxiety, appetite changes, low mood, disruptive sleep patterns, and a loss of interest in normal daily functions. Depression is usually treated with medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), atypical antidepressants, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Does Depression Drive You to Drink?
Depression’s symptoms of continually feeling sadness and hopelessness can influence how people think and act. For those struggling with depression, alcohol may be used to suppress symptoms such as irritability, loss of interest, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Drinking can become a way to escape reality and relax. However, using alcohol as a way to cope can significantly impact physical and emotional well-being.
Alcohol use increases both the severity and duration of depressive episodes. It also increases the likelihood, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts. Alcohol can also cause other stressors in life, such as career and family problems that worsen depression. When alcohol is used to alleviate depression symptoms, symptoms are made worse, and drinking may continue or worsen, causing a vicious cycle that can be challenging to break out of.
Can Drinking Too Much Cause Depression?
In some circumstances, excessive drinking can cause depression. Prolonged alcohol abuse can drastically change and rewire the brain and impact many other chemical balances in the body. The systemic changes that occur when neurotransmitters are altered can cause depression.
Heavy alcohol consumption alters the brain’s neurotransmitters. Chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine will fluctuate rapidly with alcohol consumption. Serotonin helps balance a person’s mood, while dopamine controls the brain’s reward system. Unusually high or low levels of these chemicals can trigger symptoms of depression, among other health problems.
Other Health Complications Associated With Alcohol Use
Alcohol puts you at high risk of developing a significant health complication to your brain and other major organs in your body. After prolonged use, alcohol can impair the part of your brain that forms new memories. It also interferes with the way the brain functions to keep you alive.
Too much alcohol can lead to a blackout, which is characterized as amnesia during intoxication. During a blackout, there is no recollection of what happened during that time. A blackout stops the memory storage process due to a chemical disruption in the brain’s hippocampus, which is where memories are developed. Unlike passing out, a person who experiences a blackout can talk and move, but their brain loses the ability to form new memories.
Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over a long period can contribute to cardiovascular problems, liver failure, and pancreatitis. Alcohol consumption can also lead to reckless and risky behavior and can be deadly because it impairs judgment. There are also extensive reviews of research studies showing a strong scientific consensus of a link between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer.
In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time, the higher their risk of developing alcohol-associated cancer. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol-related.“
How to Cope With Depression Symptoms Without Alcohol
There are various ways to help improve mental health without alcohol, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet. Good nutrition helps brain function, improves mood, and reduces the risk of diabetes. Yoga enables you to establish connections to yourself. Maintaining mindfulness contributes to the healing of the mind, body, and spirit.
Deep breathing techniques and mediation are significant components of healing. Breathing incorporates deep sleep relaxation and internal recharging and makes changes in the central nervous system.
Exercise improves physical health and mental health and decreases the risk of developing organ failure, obesity, heart attack, or death. Good nutrition and regular exercise help improve mindfulness and brain function by increasing blood oxygen levels in the brain and making muscles stronger.
Depression is a mental health disorder that can cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness and various other symptoms. Many people may use alcohol as a coping method to relieve the symptoms associated with depression. However, alcohol can make depression worse. It worsens symptoms, severity, and the duration of depressive episodes. In some cases, alcohol use can even cause depression. Luckily, there are ways to cope with mental health disorders without the use of alcohol. However, if you are stuck in the vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and depression, there is help available. At Achieve Concierge, our expert medical clinicians are dedicated to patient care and support, learn about a patient, and then offer comprehensive mental health services as part of a total wellness experience. We provide individualized support to help you cope with mental health conditions and difficult life events. We have same-day appointments in person, as well as telemedicine appointments. To find out more information about our services, call us today at (858) 221-0344.
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