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Alcoholism And Depression - Alcohol abuse


Lets understand the relationship between Alcohol and Depression. For people who have been alcohol dependent for a long time, alcohol can have a toxic effect on their serotonin neuro-transmitters, but that does not necessarily lead to depression or anxiety. Alcohol feeds depressive symptoms, incresing both their frequency and severity. In other words, not all heavy or long time drinkers will become depressed.

Alcohol can briefly produce a pleasant and relaxed state of the mind. However, alcohol problems and depression commonly occur together. It is more accurate to say that alcohol contributes to the development of depression.

Up to 40 per cent of people who drink heavily have symptoms that resemble a depressive illness. About 5 to 10 per cent of people with a depressive illness also have symptoms of an alcohol problem.

Depressed people often turn to alcohol in the belief that it has the ability to ease their symptoms. What they fail to realise is that nothing could be further from the truth. The euphoric feelings produced by the drug are however soon replaced by sensations of drowsiness, petulance and irritability. Where consumption continues, motor co-ordination and balance may become impaired. The drinker may feel confused and disorientated and lose all sense of rationality. In the end, the desire to sleep will override everything else with the result that in some cases drinkers may even pass out wherever they are.

If a drinker has never experienced alcohol problems, he or she will tend to not have symptoms of depression. Research indicates that people who experienced alcohol problems both before and after age 60 have the highest rates of depression. It has also been suggested that the existence of earlier alcohol problems predicts depression in later life.

Over the last decade new research has shed light on the way alcohol affects the brain, and in the ways in which the brain is affected in depression. It is now known that some of the systems that are involved in producing the symptoms of low mood, anxiety, poor sleep and reduced appetite in depression are also affected by alcohol. This is one explanation of why alcohol can cause depression.

There are also many potential psychological and social reasons for links between alcohol and depression.

Depression and Alcohol abuse and use of other Drugs

Alcohol falls into a category of drugs known as sedative hypnotics. Other well known drugs in this class include tranquilizers like Librium, Valium and Xanax. A lot of depressed people, especially teenagers, also have problems with alcohol or other drugs. (Alcohol is a drug, too.) Sometimes the depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape it. (In the long run, drugs or alcohol just make things worse!) Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression is caused by:

  • the drug itself, or
  • withdrawal from it, or
  • the problems that substance use causes.

Some antidepressants are sedative. If they are taken with alcohol, a person can be seriously sedated and at risk of their breathing stopping. In addition, many antidepressants are broken down in the liver. Because alcohol can damage the liver, the levels of these antidepressants in the body will be higher in people who are also drinking heavily. This can lead to an increase in side effects from the antidepressants.

And sometimes you can't tell which came first...the important point is that when you have both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment, the better . Either problem can make the other worse and lead to bigger trouble, like addiction or flunking school. You need to be honest about both problems-first with yourself and then with someone who can help you get into treatment...it's the only way to really get better and stay better.

Due to the initial euphoric sensations that it produces, those suffering from depression will often turn to alcohol in an attempt to make themselves feel more in control. They are therefore far more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol than non-depressed individuals. In addition, the affect that heavy drinking has on the central nervous system is likely to be even more detrimental to the wellbeing of depressed patients than non depressed individuals. This is due to the fact that alcohol may further upset chemical balances in the brain and thus promote the onset of depressive episodes. For this reason, health care practitioners often advise those who are predisposed to depression to abstain from drinking altogether.

Reactive vs Endogeneous Depression

Teen Depression and alcohol

Sometimes crying or laughing
are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.

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