What's the Connection Between Alcohol and Depression?

Is there a link between alcohol and depression? (Image via Pexels/ Mahrael Boutros)
There's a link between alcohol and depression. (Image via Pexels/Mahrael Boutros)

Alcohol and depression are strongly correlated. The debate is whether excessive drinking causes depression ordepressed persons are more likely to do so. Either is a possibility.

Substance use won't help you feel better if you're struggling with depression. Feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or grief may be momentarily suppressed, but they will not endure. Additionally, your depression will probably only get worse.

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Depression and alcohol use are related, and the two illnesses may reinforce each other. Treatment for alcoholism frequently alleviates depression. While depression may be reduced, alcohol use disorder cannot be cured.


Relationship between Alchohol and Depression

Nearly one-third of people who suffer from serious depression also struggle with alcoholism.

Depression frequently strikes first. According to research, adolescents who experience depression are more likely to struggle with substance use in the years that follow.

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Additionally, young people with experience of a significant depressive episode are twice as likely to start drinking than their peers who have not.

Depression, though, can only get worse if you drink. People who're depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes and are more likely to consider suicide. Antidepressants may also work less effectively if you drink excessively.

Depressants include alcohol, which indicates that drinking in any amount increases your risk of developing the blues. Depression and brain damage are two effects of heavy drinking.

You're more prone to act rashly or poorly when you have had too much to drink. As a result, you run the risk of emptying your bank account, quitting your job, or breaking up with someone. If your genes are predisposed to depression, you're very likely to feel depressed when that occurs.


Effects of Alcohol Usage

Substances can give you an exhilarating and euphoric sense that makes you feel immediately happier and more confident, but those feelings are just temporary. Alcohol is a substance that has an impact on the central nervous system and brain function, much as barbiturates (sedatives).

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Nevertheless, a lot of Americans still indulge in substance abuse. The symptoms worsen when you consume more alcohol. You might suffer from diminished inhibition, lack of judgement, confusion, and mood changes, among other things, depending on how drunk you are.


Contributing Factors: Does Family or Lifestyle Play a Role?

It's not always apparent whether drinking causes depression or the other way around.

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Twin studies have indicated that the same factors that increase the likelihood of heavy drinking in families also increase the likelihood of depression.

At least one shared gene has been discovered by scientists. It affects mental processes like memory and attention. People with variations in this gene may be more susceptible to depression and substance abuse. Additionally, home and social environment also matter. It seems that children who experience maltreatment or reared in poverty have a higher chance of developing both illnesses.

It's astonishing how frequently a serious depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder co-occur. You may be more likely to develop these comorbid diseases, though, depending on many variables. The contributing factors include:

  • Genetics, including a family history of substance abuse or depression.
  • PTSD, which can be brought on by child abuse, sexual assault, combat, etc., is a history of trauma or abuse.
  • Underlying issues with mental health.
  • Factors related to the environment, such as experiences with violence, trauma, assault, abuse, etc.

Making the Diagnosis

Most likely, your doctor will examine you physically and assess your mental health. They will be able to rule out other illnesses that could be causing your symptoms with the aid of this multi-test strategy. In the same way, if you have one of these diagnoses, your doctor might inquire about any associated symptoms.

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The existence of both mental disease and substance use problem is referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. It doesn't matter if drinking or depression started first.

The initial step is to get alcohol out of the system. Once they're sober, people will still have to deal with their depressive symptoms. A facility that understands the connection between the two is necessary for effective therapy.


Takeaway

As long as you don't have a medical condition that precludes you from drinking, it probably won't harm you to occasionally have a glass of wine or beer for social purposes. However, you can have a more serious issue if you depend on substance to get you through the day or if it interferes with your relationships, career, social life, thoughts, or feelings.

Edited by Bhargav
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