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Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol and Mental Health
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Alcohol is often used to unwind and relax, especially after a long, stressful day at work. However, mental health and alcohol use, and abuse, often coincide. Overconsumption of alcohol can worsen your anxiety, and there is a strong connection between depression and alcohol. If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can quickly find a therapist at BetterHelp.com. 

Alcohol use may contribute to or result from several different mental health illnesses. People often drink as a way to self-medicate their depression, anxiety, or other issues. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder sometimes rely on alcohol to avoid intrusive or unwanted thoughts or behaviors. Someone who suffers from bipolar disorder has a greater chance of developing substance use disorder even though alcohol can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Alcohol and Depression

Depression often occurs with depression. Not only that, but they feed each other and make symptoms worse in a problematic cycle. Using alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of mood disorders, and depression may increase alcohol consumption. 

Depression causes feelings of sadness, anger, grief, hopelessness, and apathy. It can also cause a reduction in productivity or motivation. Alcohol use disorder may cause someone to drink too frequently, drink heavily, or be unable to stop drinking once they stop. 

Some people who suffer from depression may use alcohol to self-medicate and provide temporary relief from distressing symptoms. However, these effects are only temporary, and people who use alcohol frequently are more likely to suffer from depression. 

It is still unclear whether depression or alcohol misuse comes first, and every individual’s symptoms and experience will be unique. Many factors contribute to depression and alcohol misuse, including genetics, personality, and history, including prior abuse or trauma.

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Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash

There are several treatment options for alcohol misuse and simultaneous depression, and they are commonly treated together. Antidepressants may be a good option since alcohol can affect the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. Furthermore, some medications are meant to decrease alcohol cravings. 

Therapy is another possible treatment option. Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, can help someone understand misguided or unpleasant thought processes. Then, you can change your thoughts and behavior. For alcohol use, there are classes and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or AA. 

Alcohol and Anxiety 

Alcohol is a sedative and depressant and can temporarily reduce stress levels for some people. It may improve your mood, lower inhibitions, and relax your body and mind. However, frequent use can build tolerance and increase anxiety and stress levels. Coming too much alcohol can cause blackouts, memory loss, and severe cases, leading to liver damage or even brain damage. 

Alcohol affects the level of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can lead to increased anxiety. This may cause you to feel more anxious when the effects of the alcohol wear off. Some signs of alcohol dependence include:

  • needing a drink to get going in the morning, 
  • drinking heavily for at least four days a week, 
  • requiring a drink at any social event, 
  • the inability to stop or reduce drinking, or 
  • drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a day. 

Frequent alcohol consumption also leads to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you stop or reduce your alcohol consumption. 

Therapy is an effective way to treat anxiety disorders. Additionally, some people may do well with medication. Lifestyle changes can also affect anxiety levels in several ways. Some people benefit from meditation or writing in a journal. Everybody is different, but it does not hurt to speak with your doctor or a therapist to see what they recommend. 

Conclusion

Low to moderate alcohol consumption is safe for many people, but if you suffer from anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, or other mental health illness, drinking alcohol could make the symptoms worse. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about alcohol. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol misuse or mental health illness, do not be afraid to speak with someone. These days, it is very easy to find a therapist online, and you can even talk to someone today. 

Marie Miguel 150x150 - Alcohol and Mental HealthAuthor Bio: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Featured Photo by Papo Fermentado on Unsplash