Just about anyone who struggles with depression can tell you how difficult it is. But can alcohol abuse lead to depression? Is there a link? Alcohol is a depressant. It can affect many facets of the body, including the mind and mental health of anyone who struggles with it. Being aware of what alcohol abuse is, how it affects the body, and how it affects depression can only help someone to have a clear understanding of why their depression symptoms seem to be worse when drinking.
When asking if alcohol abuse can lead to depression, it is crucial to understand exactly what constitutes alcohol abuse. If someone is having trouble moderating alcohol consumption, this may be an indication that it is a problem stemming from abusing the substance. Moderate drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is up to one drink a day for women, and up to two drinks a day for men when it is a day that alcohol is consumed.
This does not mean that if a woman drinks one drink per day, every day for a year straight that they are safe from the long-term effects. Even drinking in moderation can cause harm. Alcohol abuse is when excessive drinking occurs. This can be daily or binge drinking occasionally. Drinking above the recommended limit can lead to alcohol abuse.
Alcohol abuse can impact the body in different ways. In the heart, it can cause cardiomyopathy, which is the stretching and drooping of the muscles in the heart. It can also lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and stroke. In the liver, it can lead to steatosis (fatty liver), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis. Alcohol abuse can also lead to the pancreas producing toxins that can lead to swelling of the blood vessels, and inflammation in the pancreas, disrupting the proper digestion of food. This is known as pancreatitis. It can also inhibit the immune system. This can make someone more susceptible to disease and illness.
Outside of the health impacts of alcohol abuse, it also affects the brain. The impacts on the brain can be lifelong, and life-altering. This can include depression.
In the short term, someone could feel elated, or happier when drinking. However, when moderate drinking turns into alcohol abuse, it can lead to depression in those who are struggling with the substance. Being that alcohol is a depressant, it affects and decreases the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, both of which help to regulate mood. With the levels of these two mood regulators being decreased, the mood can be lowered, or depressed. When the chemicals in the brain that are essential to regulating mood are altered long-term, this can become a “normal” state for the brain to be in.
So, when serotonin and norepinephrine levels are constantly at a lowered level, and someone begins to feel depressed, this can turn into a daily normal state for them. Those who suffer from alcohol-related depression can have severe impacts on everyday life, including work, school, and family relationships. Depression is a difficult mental health condition to live with, and seeking professional help is highly suggested.
The effects of alcohol on the brain are the reason why alcohol can actually cause depression symptoms to worsen. In a person who is already struggling with regulating mood, when the essential brain chemicals are altered, these symptoms can worsen. Alcohol abuse can lead to depression worsening over time.
When alcohol is mixed with depression symptoms, it can cause the seemingly normal problems endured during the depression to become overwhelming and lead to some worse feelings of depression and associated symptoms like anxiety. Someone suffering from depression should avoid alcohol so as not to aggravate the already present depression symptoms.
Alcohol abuse can not only lead to depression but can also cause dependence. The chemical properties of alcohol, when consumed long-term, can cause a state of normalcy in the body. When this happens, the body becomes dependent on those chemicals to function properly. When the chemicals are abruptly removed, it can lead to alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from headache and nausea to tremors and seizures. These symptoms can be dangerous, and this is why it is extremely important to seek proper care when deciding to end alcohol abuse and begin a life free from the substance.
Alcohol abuse leads to addiction. When someone is addicted to alcohol it can be a hard habit to break, and it can lead to some pretty devastating consequences. However, there is hope. At Lexington Addiction Center we offer a personalized plan to help those struggling with alcohol overcome the addiction and find hope again. If you or a loved one are struggling, reach out to us today. Contact us now to take your first steps to lasting recovery!