Alcohol and depression often appear to go hand in hand. It is all too common for many people to drink alcohol when they are feeling down, or are overcome by the events of their lives. Unfortunately any perceived benefit of ‘drowning one’s sorrows’ will be very temporary.
Individuals who drink as a method of dealing with their negative emotions can be creating long-term harm for themselves in the pursuit of short-term relief. If drinking becomes habitual, it can wreak havoc emotionally, physically and take its toll on family and work. It can also lead to or exacerbate chronic or ongoing depression.
When drinking alcohol, be it to relax or celebrate, many people lose their feelings of being bound or restricted. This relaxed feeling that occurs is due to the chemical changes caused by alcohol in the brain. This effect has led numerous people to believe that ‘booze’ can help them reduce their anxiety and depression, improve overall confidence and help them relax.
Alcohol is, in fact, a depressant, not an anti-depressant. It depresses the portion of the brain that is most responsible for conscious thought. This is why it becomes easier to forget one’s immediate problems for the moment, as unwanted feelings and emotions are temporarily suppressed.
As a person consumes more and more alcoholic drinks, different areas of the brain become affected. Instead of experiencing more happy feelings, it is common for negative emotional responses including depression, anxiety and anger to take over.
Of course, once the alcohol-induced state is gone, the problems remain, often increased in magnitude and too often accompanied by remorse. This adds to the emotional burden being dealt with, increasing the symptoms and feelings of depression and creating a vicious cycle.
If this roller-coaster behavior is allowed to become a habit, it is usual that both alcoholic consumption and symptoms of depression increase. Again, this adds pressure to family, social and work relationships, and contributes to the symptoms associated with depression.
If you are a person who drinks heavily on a consistent basis, you could be at a much higher risk of developing depression symptoms. Alcohol can alter brain chemistry, including lowering the serotonin levels within the brain. Serotonin is one of the several chemicals in the brain that aid in regulating moods.
The consumed alcohol causes chemical imbalances, which the body must work hard to metabolize so as to reduce damage to the body and the brain. Suffering the effects a hangover is also not conducive to feelings of happiness and wellness.
Relationships can be negatively affected, either by the drinking or the associated depression. These relationship issues add fuel to the depression fire, and so the vicious cycle escalates. Using alcohol to mask symptoms of depression is very common. Avoiding to confront the problem directly is almost as common. When seeking temporary relief from problems becomes habitual and longed for, there is a problem.
Solutions are available, which require personal courage and usually support from loved ones. It is in the interests of both sufferers and others affected by the effects of chronic drinking to seek help. Too many lives and relationships have been damaged and even destroyed by the twin problems of depression and alcohol.