In reality, alcohol is a depressant that affects the brain chemistry and can ultimately alter the way you perceive your problems, generally exacerbating them and making one feel more depressed than they already were before the drink.
The Relationship Between Alcohol Abuse & Depression
Alcohol abusers are among those with the highest rates of depression. Studies performed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have found that somewhere between 30-50% of those with alcohol issues also suffer from major depressive symptoms. Additionally, another study by the same institute found that those with alcohol dependency are about four times more likely to have dealt with depressive symptoms in the year before than their non-drinking counterparts.
Alcohol consumption can increase the severity and duration of several depressive symptoms, including:
- Decreased energy and fatigue
- Insomnia and excessive sleep
- Feelings of guilt, helplessness, and worthlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and increased thoughts of suicide
- Difficulty with memory, concentration, and decision making
- Irritability, restlessness, and pessimism
- Appetite loss or overeating
- Chronic pain, headaches, cramps, and digestive issues
Effects of Alcohol in the Body
Alcohol effects on body functions include:
- Lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which can make a person suffering from depression even more depressed.
- Temporarily minimizes the effects of stress hormones, exacerbating depressive episodes
- Possibly activates a gene that’s linked to mental health problems such as depression, manic-depressive episodes, and seizures
- Can induce folic acid deficiency, which is linked to processes that age the brain and puts one at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia
- Causes hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can lead to symptoms such as confusion, irritability, poor concentration, and headaches
- Disrupts the sleep cycle, preventing you from entering the deeper state of sleep that is necessary for your mind and body to heal
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