For some alcohol is thought to have a short-term mood-boosting effect, but truthfully alcohol can also have detrimental effects on mental health. Some of the issues linked to drinking alcohol include memory loss, depression & anxiety, and even suicide. Heavy drinking can have detrimental effects on one’s ability to maintain positive mental health, interfering with naturally occuring chemicals found in the brain that are important for good mental health, and making it hard to deal with stress, causing depression and anxiety.
Disruption of this delicate balance of the brain’s neurotransmitters, processes and chemicals occurs, when alcohol is consumed and especially when alcohol is habitually abused, leading to detrimental effects, including on one’s long-term mental well-being. For instance, drinking can make people feel more confident because the chemicals in the brain that are associated with inhibition are being suppressed. These effects of alcohol on our brain are known to increase as we drink more, but in the end alcohol as a method for treating symptoms leaves you feeling worse. Regardless of the mood that we’re in, the increase in alcohol consumption can lead to negative emotions that can affect our mental health.
Can Alcohol Cause Anxiety?
Many people begin to rely on alcohol to mask their anxiety. Although for some a drink can help someone feel more at ease, this feeling is known to be short-lived and drinking alcohol is suppressing the emotions or stressors instead of dealing with them in a healthy way. According to some individuals, they may experience a “relaxed” feeling after drinking alcohol, however these effects don’t last long and are not a sustainable solution to feeling well mentally.
As alcohol becomes a consistent coping mechanism for anxiety, one of the possible side effects of this is the increase in the risk of developing a tolerance to alcohol. A beer or glass of wine becomes 6 beers or a bottle of wine to feel better. This pattern can eventually lead to alcohol dependence, which causes additional imbalance of our brains chemicals and processes. A dangerous cycle can be created, causing more frequent anxiety and depression and more frequent alcohol abuse.
Hangovers can also cause feelings of anxiety. For some individuals, these may feel minor, but if they are already experiencing anxiety, the effects of the hangover can often make them worse. Drinking alcohol can also increase an individual’s anxiety levels in certain situations, like social gatherings, family events, etc. As a result, they tend to focus on the negative and ignore the positive information around them.
Alcohol’s Effect on Your Brain – Depression:
Heavy drinking is also known to increase the risk of experiencing depression. Although it’s not always clear how drinking alcohol can cause a person to develop depression, it’s widely believed that it can affect the chemical levels in the body that are responsible for regulating our mood. Multiple studies have shown that drinking can trigger depression. It’s believed that stopping or reducing alcohol consumption can help improve one’s mood.
Depression medications should not be combined with alcohol. Some commonly used antidepressants can increase the risk of a person experiencing a relapse into heavy drinking if they are trying to stop or abstain from alcohol. This is why it is important that patients are only taking these medications with the approval of their doctor.
Seeking Help for Alcohol, Depression & Anxiety
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety and/or dependency on alcohol, look for positive coping mechanisms like exercise, meditation & yoga, journaling, finding a hobby like art or music to dive into, etc. If those self-help methods have been tried and failed, we are always here to help. Sometimes the best avenue is talking to someone, an unbiased and judgment-free person, about how you are feeling can be a positive thing. Give us a call and see if Fountain Hills Recovery is the right step is your journey to healing both mentally and physically from alcohol dependence, depression and anxiety.