If you or a loved one have struggled with alcohol dependence, it comes as no surprise to you that alcohol affects mood. It can turn a mild mannered person into a raging lunatic, a calm person into a hysterical fool, or a happy person into a mess of crying and sadness. Of course, for those who have developed alcohol dependence the effects may not seem as extreme, but the damage and struggle on a day to day basis is much greater.
It also may not surprise those who are in the thick of depression and drinking problems that there is a real connection between the two. The link has long been suspected, and probably known for a certainty by those who experience it, but studies into the connection have found definite evidence that one can lead to the other.
Reasons Why Alcohol Dependence Causes and Worsens Depression
- Alcohol is a depressant type drug.
- If the person is already depressed, then it means that they are trying to hide from the condition rather than treat it. This strategy is unlikely to prove successful in the long run.
- The individual will tend to do things that they regret when inebriated. This means that they will have more things to feel bad about.
- Inebriation makes people impulsive. If they are already feeling depressed, then they may engage in behaviors that they would not normally consider.
- The individual will have less self-control when they are drinking. This coupled with the fact that they have a reduced decision making capacity means that they will be at far higher risk of committing suicide.
- Binge drinking often means that the individual can begin having problems with family members, friends, or people at work. This gives them further reasons to feel depressed.
- Alcohol is a toxin that harms the body and mind. This means that the individual will be less able to handle he symptoms of depression.
When we drink, we narrow our perception of a situation and don’t always respond to all the cues around us. If we’re prone to anxiety and notice something that could be interpreted as threatening in the environment, we’ll hone in on that and miss the other less threatening or neutral information. For example, we might focus on our partner talking to someone we’re jealous of, rather than notice all the other people they’ve been chatting to that evening.
Alcohol depression = a vicious cycle
Being diagnosed with clinical or major depression is a very serious statement. Many of us experience the signs of depression from time to time, but to have a clinical case, you must display certain symptoms for an extended period of time. Symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in eating habits, such as eating more or less and gaining or losing weight as a result
- Changes in sleeping habits; sleeping more or less than normal
- Fatigue and general lack of energy
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Loss of interest in daily activities and routines
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Suicidal thoughts
What is alcohol dependence?
As with clinical depression, there are many symptoms or behaviors that must be seen to determine your relationship to alcohol. If you have a healthy drinking habit, you should experience none of these symptoms, or maybe one or two of them only occasionally.
- Using alcohol even when health or safety is compromised
- Difficulty functioning at work or in other situations because of drinking
- Developing Alcohol Tolerance
- Having withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, which can include shaking, elevated heart rate, sweating, high blood pressure, and in severe cases seizures and hallucinations