Alcohol And Depression

Picture of Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

It’s no secret that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to alcohol-related harm to your physical health, whether it be short-term effects such as alcohol poisoning or long-term consequences such as organ damage.

Excessive alcohol consumption (e.g. alcohol abuse or binge drinking) can also increase the risk of developing alcohol addiction. This can impact your life in various ways, causing relationship problems, and financial difficulties, and affecting your general well-being.

However, you may not understand the links between alcohol and depression. Can alcohol cause depression, or does depression lead to alcohol addiction? That’s what we’re going to be exploring on this page.

Read on to learn more about the links between alcohol and mental health, including depression. We’ll also be discussing the treatment available for alcohol use disorder, and how our team at Help4Addiction can help you get sober.

Alcohol and Mental Health Disorders

Alcohol abuse has been linked with a range of mental health conditions, including mood disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It appears that people who are in contact with mental health services for mental health problems and have a history of alcohol problems may be at an increased risk of suicide.

Between 2007 and 2017, there were close to 6,000 suicides among mental health patients with a history of alcohol misuse. This equates to roughly 10% of all deaths by suicide in England.

Addictive behaviours - for example, alcohol addiction - are common among people with bipolar disorder. This is because bipolar disorder, alcohol withdrawal, and alcohol use can similarly affect your brain chemistry, leading symptoms of one condition to trigger the other.

Likewise, people with anxiety tend to experience unpleasant symptoms - and may be more likely to consume alcohol to relieve these symptoms and feel relaxed.

However, alcohol is not a cure for anxiety and may worsen the existing symptoms. When you drink alcohol in excess, you may experience a hangover the next day - which can also worsen feelings of anxiety.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also affect your mental health - you may experience anxiety, mood swings, and low mood. This is why many people with mental health conditions choose to detox from alcohol in a rehab facility - and undergo a medically assisted detox.

Does Alcohol Misuse Cause Depression?

Depression can have a range of causes and triggers - for example, life-changing events such as bereavement or having a baby can all trigger depression.

Genetics is also another risk factor for major depressive disorder/ major depression - having a family history of depression can increase the risk of developing depression.

That being said, there is no single cause of depression. You may have heard that alcohol can cause depression - but is this true? Well, alcohol abuse and binge drinking can worsen symptoms of depression, but also cause it.

People with depression may drink alcohol to relieve symptoms of depression - but it will leave them feeling worse than before.

People with excessive drinking habits/ people who binge drink are more likely to suffer from depression. Alcohol dependence is three times more likely in people who have depression.

As alcohol is a depressant, alcohol affects the chemicals in your brain - specifically dopamine and serotonin.

You’ll experience a brief boost of these chemicals when you drink alcohol, but then you’ll be deficient in them when the effects wear off, leaving you feeling miserable and anxious.

It can be difficult to determine whether depression in a person is caused by alcohol or not. However, if you stop drinking alcohol and the symptoms of depression persist, then you should speak with your GP and seek appropriate treatment for depression.

Treatment for depression often involves therapy, counselling, medication - or a combination of the three. If you are on antidepressant medication, it’s important to consult your doctor before drinking alcohol with your prescription. This is because many prescription medications aren’t designed to be taken with alcohol. Alcohol can increase the side effects of the medication. Likewise, some antidepressants may even increase the risk of relapsing when you stop drinking.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe alcohol use disorder or a substance abuse problem that co-occurs with a mental health disorder. For example, a person with depression and alcohol use disorder will have a dual diagnosis.

A person with mental health conditions may be more likely to drink or abuse drugs to self-medicate. However, alcohol can often exaggerate the symptoms - it doesn’t solve the problem.

Before you receive treatment for alcohol use disorder, you may undergo a psychological evaluation.

If your co-occurring disorder is depression, for example, treating depression should be part of your treatment plan. Addiction to alcohol and depression should both be addressed during your treatment.

Help For Alcohol Dependence

If you struggle to have a few alcohol-free weeks or even a few alcohol-free days, then you may have an alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction often becomes more severe if you don’t seek treatment.

If you are struggling to control your alcohol consumption, whether it be how much you drink, how often you drink, or when you start/ stop drinking, then speak to our experts at Help4Addiction.

At Help4Addiction, we have been helping people with addiction - including drug addiction, substance misuse issues, and alcohol addiction - get the treatment they deserve.

We’ll listen to your story and gain an understanding of your preferences and requirements to connect you with the best rehab clinic.

Whether you’re looking for inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab, you’re looking for rehab as an NHS patient or you’d prefer private rehab, the perfect rehab clinic is out there for you.

The Rehab Process

The rehab process can vary from clinic to clinic and from case to case - however, most rehab clinics will follow a similar model: detoxification, therapy, and aftercare.

An alcohol detox focuses on physical dependence - ultimately freeing your body of the substance. During this stage, you may experience alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may detox under medical supervision.

However, if you are eligible, you may detox from home using an at-home detox kit. Check out this page to learn more about what to expect when detoxing from alcohol at home.

Therapy is a key part of addiction treatment - not only can it improve your mental health and general well-being, but can teach you valuable coping mechanisms that can ultimately help to prevent relapse.

Some forms of therapy in rehab include CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), counselling, and group therapies.

Once you leave alcohol rehab, you can continue receiving support in the form of aftercare. Aftercare aims at easing the transition from rehab to your everyday life, supporting you. This can include telephone support, online support, and continued therapy.

Some people in alcohol addiction recovery attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or recovery cafes/ sober cafes.

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