Alcohol and Depression


Due to the fact that alcohol is both a stimulant and a depressant, it is not surprising that alcohol and depression often co-exist. Initially, it acts like a stimulant and then once it reaches about .08 in the bloodstream, there is a sufficient level for it to become a depressant. Thus explaining why you feel so great at first and then later on feel somewhat down or blue.



Drinking has pretty much become a normal part of society and is accepted in every circle. Alcohol is entering lives at a much earlier age; even prior to the teen years. Statistics show that one out of every three men and one out of every six women develop an alcohol related health issue. Alcohol dependence affects one in eleven men and one in 25 women. When alcohol and depression are linked it is often referred to as substance-induced depression. Most people do not even realize that their drinking is causing them to experience mood and mental problems.




Depression and the Alcohol Connection



Suicide and self-harm become more pronounced in people who have issues with alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol often leads to depression. Or conversely, if you are already depressed or anxious, alcohol is used as a medication to relieve those feelings. The brain chemistry is affected by alcohol leading to depression. Serotonin levels are reduced thus causing depression; which is why antidepressants are often prescribed to deal with the depression.



Even though depression often leads to more drinking, it is more common to find the alcohol use leads to the depression. A 1996 survey conducted by U.S. National Comorbidity found one in every three people that had alcohol dependence also had some form of mental or mood disorder including depression.




Overcoming Alcoholic Depression



Feeling better will generally occur if alcohol usage is completely stopped. Moods and feelings most often improve drastically after about four weeks. However, if you still feel down it is advisable to talk to your family doctor about your alcohol and depression problem. It often helps to talk out your feelings and some of the issues you possibly may have suffered in relation to the drinking: divorce, unemployment, relationship issues or just overwhelming sadness.



It is not a bad thing to need some psychiatric help dealing with the alcohol and depression problems in your life. Never let the stigma prevent you from seeking professional help. If you know someone who is a recovering alcoholic and they are struggling, encourage them to seek out some professional guidance to turn their life around. Often antidepressants may be prescribed or even cognitive therapy begun. There are even some medications used to prevent the desire and craving of alcohol which will provide a greater success rate.



Alcoholism and Heredity



A 30 year study was conducted of 400 men that were only 18 when the study began. Half of them had an increased risk of becoming alcoholic due to their fathers being alcoholics. After the 30 year period, 41% became alcohol abusers or dependent upon it and 20% had at least one major bout of depression. Quite often, the alcohol and depression connection is only observed while there is heavy alcohol consumption.



Dr. Marc A. Schuckit of the University of California says, “If you’re an alcoholic, you’re going to have a lot of mood problems. And you may be tempted to say, “Well, I drink a lot because I’m depressed.” You may be right, but it’s even more likely that you’re depressed because you drink heavily.” That is pretty clear proof that alcohol and depression are extremely closely linked and often appear one with the other.