Drinking Alcohol and Mental Health
Can alcohol abuse cause depression? Many individuals who end up with an alcohol addiction can also suffer severely from depression. They may advise, when asked, that they drink to help with the depression. The reality is that drinking large amounts of alcohol will only ever increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Temporary relief may come in the form of numbness of emotions and feelings, but these soon return and feel heighten when the alcohol starts to wear off.
A Downward Spiral
Whilst an individual may feel better initially after drinking alcohol, this feeling is short lived. People who are depressed, anxious or have mental health issues, are more predisposed to drinking more and becoming bodily dependent than others. A vicious cycle can develop whereby the individual drinks to relieve depression and anxiety but in doing so their condition becomes worse and withdrawals become harder to handle, leading to more drinking and a down ward spiral.
Alcohol is a Depressant
The effects of alcohol suppress the body’s central nervous system, giving feelings of relaxation and dampening of uncomfortable emotions. Over time it can change the brains chemistry, causing increased anxiety, depression and even psychosis. Most people with depression and anxiety will drink to change the way that they feel, therefore avoiding dealing with problems or the root causes of their mental health issues. Drinking to deal with difficult feeling and emotions is known as “self-medicating” in the mental health field and with the feelings returning and in a heightened state when the alcohol wears off, there is a temptation to carry on drinking to achieve numbness once again. It is easy to see why people with mental health problems have a tendency to become more dependent on alcohol than others
What to do if you are Drinking to Relieve Mental Health Problems
Drinking is NOT a cure for depression and anxiety, or any mental health problem. Over time it will only make the condition worse. If you are suffering from a mental health problem, help can be sought through your local GP, or by calling our helpline if you are in need of a detox or cannot stop drinking. Symptoms of depression and anxiety should never be ignored, and help should always be sought through the correct channels. Treating the underlying causes of depression and anxiety is vital if an individual is to recover
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