Alcohol and Depression: How Alcohol Makes Your Depression Worse
Depression and alcohol coexist very well together. Finding yourself in the grasp of depression increases your chances of developing alcohol abuse, and vice versa. In the end, you’re under a threat to get into a vicious circle of strengthening of both conditions endlessly.
How are they connected?
Drinking and depression are connected very tightly. The depression symptoms and the side-effects of excessive drinking are very alike. They include:
- unstable mood changes;
- loss of interest in hobbies and activities;
- loss of appetite;
- increased self-depreciation;
- exhaustion and lack of energy.
Some of these are obviously not the side-effects of drinking itself, but of the self-analysis that follows afterward (self-depreciation, mood changes), while others are very much physical conditions that follow both the alcohol abuse and typical depression (exhaustion, loss of appetite).
Obviously, both of them have a tendency to bring out the negative sides of one’s life. But it’s also not necessarily an after-effect of personal soul-searching. Alcohol affects your brain and many neurotransmitters (dopamine, for instance). Your mood depends on the well-being and stability of these transmitters.
So, it’s very easy to worsen your mood by drinking copious amounts of alcohol both due to its purely physical effect on the body and as a result of psychological torture the drinkers unleash on themselves after drinking.
At the same time, depressive people are more likely to start drinking excessively because it’s a very well-known coping tool. Drinking alleviates stress, gives you an energy boost, and diminishes your cognitive capabilities (it means you’ll care less about your pains and problems).
Alcoholism can even be an improvised remedy for depression, chosen by a depressed person. This, however, only leads to the deepening of scars and worsening of both conditions.
Do they always coexist?
A drinking problem is likely to develop in depressive people as depressive people are likely to start drinking. However, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have to go through both conditions at the same time. You can go through depression without turning to extreme drinking, and vice versa.
It’s fairly likely, however, because both of these disorders appear due to the same issues:
- personal mental trauma;
- lack of other people’s support;
- personal tendency to negative emotions;
- genetic predisposition.
There is more. Both alcohol addiction and depressiveness are reactions to traumatic experiences, neglect, misery, and other unhealthy mental contributors. But while alcoholism is a mechanism of copying (trying to fight the negative emotion), depression is, in part, an embracing of negative emotion and succumbing to it.
Depression and alcohol do coexist very frequently, and, as mentioned before, they are very likely to worsen each other. This, in the end, leads to a very unhealthy mental state and suicidal thoughts.
They need to be dealt with as soon as possible. The good news is, by treating one, you’re actively treating the other. It’s important to start doing something about these mental problems. The best step to recovery would be to get diagnosed.
Seeking help from a doctor
Both chronic alcoholism and depression are treatable mental disorders. Curing them (and initially identifying them) can only be done by a professional. So, it’s important to make an appointment to see a specialist.
Treating depression and alcohol use disorder is usually done by prescribing medications and advising individuals to seek therapy. To identify alcoholism and depression, doctors usually conduct several tests. If you don’t, in fact, have a deep depression, you’ll only have to deal with one problem – your drinking.
Curing depression is everyone’s own challenge, but doctors usually prescribe antidepressants – medications meant to bring your neural system back into balance, which in turn should level your emotions and then the side-effects of depression.
However, both in this case and in the case with uncontrolled alcoholism, the individual should show at least some initiative and make an effort. This means getting rid of the unhealthy habits and cultivating healthy ones surrounding mental wellbeing:
- finding a hobby you’re passionate about;
- finding legitimate coping mechanisms besides drinking;
- removing negative triggers;
- replacing them with positive things instead;
- making an effort to be productive;
- spending more time around positive people;
- encouraging people around you to support you.
All these decisions won’t just make your way away from depression easier, but they’ll also distract you from alcohol and a desire to go into a relapse and start drinking again. This should not happen.
It’s your main priority to refrain from returning to drinking at all costs. It’ll both reignite your addiction and worsen your depression. In order to stop yourself from drinking completely, you might consider making several more specifically drinking-oriented decisions (in addition to those listed above).
Another great way to improve your chances is undergoing some therapy, but more on that in a bit.
Treating the alcohol addiction
Refraining from alcohol will seriously increase your chances of going back to a stable emotional state. It’s not too easy, though. As with depression, it’s everyone’s own challenge, given how alcohol problems are both psychological and physiological. Fortunately, there are ways of curing it for good.
The support group method is one of the most effective in this category. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is one such example. At these meetings, people generally share their stories and reasons why they turned to drinking. Support from like-minded individuals means a lot, and it accelerates the process of recovery significantly.
Rehabilitation centers are another example, but it requires a lot of your time, as well as having to withstand medical treatment, which isn’t always comfortable, especially not for depressed patients. It’s a very extreme way, but still one of the more available ones.
Sober homes are probably the best out of the bunch, but you’ll still have to spend some time in these. They are institutions that provide housing in comfortable environments and support. In such institutions, you can find new modes of living for yourself, new passions, and new coping mechanisms to substitute drinking.
These houses are also pretty effective at dealing with depression because, as you can see, they provide the same solutions to the same problems.
Therapy is an important step in battling depression. As you might’ve guessed, it also contributes to fighting alcoholism. Regular therapy meetings imply conversations with a professional, over the course of which you’re bound to find out what problems drove you to depression in the first place.
You won’t only be able to identify the issues, but also find coping mechanisms to deal with them and learn how to improve your emotional state.
By battling depression through therapy, you remove part of the reason for your drinking, find solutions to the problems that sparked alcohol abuse in you, and gradually improve both disorders.
The importance of simultaneous treatment
Going to get diagnosed for any mental disorders is crucial. You may know about ways of fighting some of your ailments, now that you’ve read through this article. However, you might be mistakenly thinking that you don’t have one of these disorders or that you have both of them. This leads to self-treatment, and it’s often not very effective and sometimes even dangerous.
Treating both of these problems at the same time will act as a domino effect. You will treat both, alcoholism and depression, simultaneously, considering how interconnected they are.
All of this is important to know and make plans for your recovery, but you shouldn’t use this information as the only means to start fighting your psychological problems. You alone can’t win this fight. This is exactly why you need help from therapists, your friends, family, and people who went through the same ordeal.
This information is only to give you the knowledge of what lies ahead and to instill into you the importance of dealing with depression and alcohol addiction before they strengthen each other beyond your control.
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