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The Effects of Alcohol on Depression

Most people are aware of the short-term effects of alcohol consumption, but many are unaware of the potential long-term negative health effects. Long-term alcohol use can lead to a number of health problems, including liver damage, heart disease, and cancer. It can also impact your mental health, causing problems like depression and anxiety. If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s important to seek help before it leads to further damage.


Depression and Alcohol Use


Clinical depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a profound impact on every aspect of a person’s life. While the symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, there are certain criteria that are used to diagnose the condition.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the primary symptom of clinical depression is a low mood that lasts for at least two weeks. Other symptoms may include loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.


In order to be diagnosed with clinical depression, a person must meet certain criteria. First, they must have a low mood that lasts for at least two weeks. Second, they must have at least four other symptoms from the list above. And finally, their symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in their ability to function in daily life.

Many people who are battling depression will start to rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms that may give them an initial feeling of happiness and calm; however, over time they prove to be detrimental to mental health. Alcohol is one of these unhealthy coping mechanisms.


The fact of the matter is alcohol isn’t going to make you feel better if you are battling depression. While alcohol may temporarily relieve feelings of isolation, anxiety, or sadness, relief won’t last. Unfortunately, there is a likely chance that your depression will actually worsen if you use alcohol as a crutch for handling your depression. After all, alcohol is a depressant.


Alcohol produces feelings of euphoria and excitement and can therefore help us feel lighter and take away our worries. You may instantly feel more confident or happier, but that’ll only be temporary. Alcohol affects our central nervous system and brain functionality much like a sedative. Essentially, you are consuming a depressant to counter your chemical depression and that only makes it worse. The more alcohol you drink, the more your depression may worsen. Shortly after an episode of euphoria and excitement, a person with depression who is consuming alcohol may start to lose inhibitions, experience mood swings, feel confused, and more.


It is very common and easy for people with depression to abuse alcohol and use it to self-medicate. Some people with a co-occurrence of alcohol use and major depressive disorder (MDD) might also have other common risk factors that are found amongst people battling the same two issues. For example, they may have a family history of depression and substance misuse, a history of trauma, underlying mental health conditions, or other environmental factors such as exposure to violence. Moreover, physical dependence on alcohol will eventually lead to heightened anxiety as withdrawal from use kicks in whenever the person is abstaining. So, it is very likely a drinker will ultimately be caught in the throes of physical addiction and increased depression and anxiety which may lead to suicidal ideation.


Most people are aware of the mental effects of alcohol, but it can also have physical effects. Here are just a few of the ways that alcohol can impact your body:


-Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more often. This can lead to dehydration, which can make you feel tired, dizzy, and even cause headaches.

-Liver damage: Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and over time, this can lead to liver damage. Symptoms of liver damage include fatigue, nausea, and yellowing of the skin.

-Heart disease: Alcohol can also increase your risk of developing heart disease.

-Cancer: Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.


So, as you can see, alcohol can have some serious physical effects on your body and your mind. If you drink, be sure to do so in moderation. And if you think you might have a problem with alcohol, please seek help from a medical or mental health professional. Don’t attempt to ease your mental health symptoms with a substance.

If you are worried that you or a loved one may be using alcohol to cope with mental health issues, talk with a professional and get the conversation going to address the issue. Mixing alcohol with depression can very dangerous but take comfort in the fact that it is fairly common and that there are treatment options available.

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