Alcohol and Depression: How Are They Associated?

depression and alcohol, drinking when you're depressed, does alcohol make depression worse

Can Alcohol Worsen Depression Symptoms?

If you are depressed, you might be more tempted to drink. Alcohol consumption is common today. Many people think a drink might help them through the hard times, but you should think twice before you reach for a drink.

If you are thinking about a few drinks after a stressful week on the job or you are suffering through some tough times at home, you are hoping that you will feel more relaxed and will overall feel better.

Even a small amount of alcohol could lead to negative effects if you are suffering from depression. Alcohol is a sedative. While you might think a few drinks will relieve stress and give you some much-needed relaxation, it can increase the odds of depression. Alcohol is a depressant, so it could make you feel even more down and depressed.

The Symptoms That Might Result

Sometimes alcohol worsens depression symptoms and might even intensify suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Alcohol might intensify the duration and severity of your depression symptoms, some of which might include:

  • Decreased energy
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty making decisions, concentrating or remembering details
  • Excessive sleep
  • Appetite loss or overeating
  • Persistent digestive issues, cramps, headaches, or pains

If you are taking antidepressants for your condition, alcohol can interact negatively with your medication. Because of that your depression symptoms might be exacerbated.

Depression and Alcohol Abuse

Those who abuse alcohol are much more likely to suffer from depression. Studies have shown that those who abuse alcohol, about 30% to 50% of them suffer from the symptoms of depression at some point. The issues can also work the other way.

About a third of those who suffer from severe depression abuse alcohol at some point in time. Studies have shown that children who suffer from depression are much more likely to suffer from alcohol abuse after they become adolescents.

What is Depression?

The prolonged feeling of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, worthlessness, suicidal, loss of energy, and feeling apathetic is depression. Depression comes in many forms. Almost everybody faces a few bouts with depression throughout their lifetime.

Many people who face depression suffer protracted, more severe episodes. There are several contributing factors that play a role in depression, such as personal, genetic, and environmental factors. An individual can be severely affected by depression in both their professional and personal lives. Depression can even lead to suicide attempts.

Depression comes in many forms. Some of the different kinds of depression – major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder. As previously mentioned, depression and alcohol abuse are closely related. Many people who suffer from depression, especially those individuals without a proper diagnosis, often try to escape by consuming alcohol.

Those who suffer from depression often seek more pleasurable affects to numb the pain and to feel better. If someone who is depressed turns to alcohol to feel better, it can become a vicious cycle that becomes is almost impossible to escape from without the help of a trained medical professional who is knowledgeable about mental illness, such as depression, and alcohol abuse problems.

The Effect That Alcohol Can Have On Depression

There are several ways that your bodily functions can be negatively affected by alcohol which will further exacerbate your symptoms of depression:

  • The effects of stress hormones are cut off temporarily by alcohol. Because your brain and nervous symptoms are depressed, the symptoms of depression can worsen.
  • Norepinephrine and serotonin levels are lowered by alcohol, and both those chemicals are needed to regulate mood. Lower levels of those chemicals can cause someone who is depressed to be even more depressed.
  • Drugs such as cocaine or alcohol can activate a gene that is linked to mental health problems and depression. This specific gene can lead to depression, episodes of manic depression, seizures and other mental health issues, according to the National Institute of Health.
  • A deficiency of folic acid increases the chances of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and contributes to an aging brain. Those who suffer a deficiency of folic acid are much more likely to suffer from depression. Alcohol consumption can deplete your folic acid levels.

If you have been suffering from depression you could significantly worsen the symptoms by drinking alcohol. If you are struggling from alcohol abuse and depression, you should seek medical care from a treatment facility that treats alcohol and drug abuse as well as mental health disorders, such as depression.


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