Is Alcohol Dependence Leading to Your Depression?

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

 

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol puts a toll on nearly every vital organ in your body. Regardless to if you have one single drink or have been heavily drinking for years, alcohol can take a serious toll on your health. See all the effects of alcohol on the body.

Common Effects of Alcohol on the Body

People under the influence of alcohol often experience a decrease in coordination, perception, and peripheral vision, which can make it difficult to walk in a straight line or drive a car, boat, or other vehicle. Impaired judgment is also a short-term effect of drinking that diminishes one’s ability to operate a vehicle or certain types of machinery. Impaired judgment may also cause people to make decisions that could prove dangerous to themselves or others. For example, a person with impaired judgment may engage in unprotected sexual intercourse, use drugs, commit a crime, or otherwise do reckless things that they wouldn’t normally attempt.

When it comes to the effects of alcohol on the body, some of the common short-term effects of alcohol include headaches, an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Additional short-term effects include dizziness, slurred speech, lapses in memory, anemia, and unconsciousness.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause some long-term health effects. These are often serious conditions that can threaten a person’s life. These negative health effects impact major organs in the body, including the heart, brain, liver, and pancreas.

Heart

For example, long-term effects of alcohol use impacts the cardiovascular system, as it causes high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat (which is known as cardiac arrhythmia), heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.

Brain

The long-term effects of alcohol on the brain may include feelings of confusion and changes to one’s mood, including depression and anxiety. Memory loss may also be a side-effect of long-term or excessive alcohol use.

Liver

Excessive amounts of alcohol in the body can be more than the liver is able to handle, causing damage to its cells. This may result in alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver disease, or
alcoholic cirrhosis. The earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease is alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it may or may not be characterized by weakness, fatigue, or discomfort. With abstinence from alcohol, this condition may be reversible in some people. The most severe of the alcohol-related liver diseases is alcoholic cirrhosis. This disease is not reversible; however, further damage may be limited if the individual stops drinking.

Pancreas

Acute alcoholic pancreatitis is yet another long-term negative effect of alcohol on the body. This is an inflammation of the pancreas that is not reversible, and it can result in further problems such as malabsorption, jaundice, diabetes, and pseudocyst formation. Additionally, it is also a condition that can be life-threatening. It is important that people diagnosed with this condition cease drinking alcohol to prevent further damage. Frequent excessive drinking over a period of time can also make a person more susceptible to some forms of cancer, such as mouth, throat, esophagus, and breast cancers.

Immune System

Heavy alcohol abuse also weakens the immune system, making your body a prime target for disease and making it harder to fight it off. It is not uncommon for chronic drinkers to develop pneumonia and tuberculosis, more so than someone who does not drink alcohol. Alcohol effects the immune system so harshly that even drinking one time can make you more vulnerable to infections, taking up to 24 hours for the immune system to bounce back.

If you or a loved one is experiencing the effects of alcohol on the body, don’t hesitate to make a change. Many long term effects of alcohol abuse can be curbed before they happen if you seek help now. If you’re experiencing the effects of alcohol, please call a doctor immediately to seek medical attention.

Blog Coming Soon!

Thank you for all the support over the last few months. We are working on getting our writing team together, and will be releasing the blog in the near future. Please continue to help support us as we strive to provide the best information possible for those seeking alcohol addiciton, prevention and awareness information. – AlcoholAwareness.org Team