Alcohol And Depression - Does It Help?
When you're struggling with depression, it's important to understand that turning to alcohol isn't the solution to overcoming it. Some people who are depressed may reach for a drink to help give them some sort of relief. But does it really help? It’s important to understand that alcohol itself is a depressant, which can only make you feel even worse. In this article, you'll find out more about the link between alcohol and depression.
Some people say that alcohol can make them feel 'less blue'. It may be true that alcohol can make you feel numb from your depressive symptoms, but keep in mind that this can only be temporary. Once the alcohol wears off, you usually only feel more anxious or depressed.
Understand that it's a bad decision to turn to alcohol to try and cure depression. It won't help you get over it. Instead, it can only be more harmful to your overall well being. According to Kevin O'Hara, the creator and author of Alcohol Mastery, "The more you drink alcohol, the more you’re relying on alcohol for your emotional support, your crutch, so regardless of your emotional level, you choose to drink."
Experts say that it's best to avoid alcohol, especially if you're taking antidepressants such as the Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors or MAOIs. This can interact with a substance called tyramine, which can be found in wine or beer. This combination can lead to a hypertensive crisis or a sudden increase in your blood pressure. Alcohol can also worsen the side effects of some depression drugs.
So, you might be wondering - Will quitting alcohol cure your depression? "Drinking holds you back from so much opportunity. The only way I can cure my own depression is by getting up and doing something", suggests O'Hara.
Alcohol can affect your brain chemistry. Heavy drinking can change the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and GABA. These are chemical messengers that play an important role in regulating your mood. The more alcohol you drink the more negative your emotional response can be.
Alcohol can affect your relationships. Regular drinking can cause some people to become more aggressive and even more depressed. This may have a negative effect towards maintaining good relationships with your friends, family or co-workers. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which in turn can make your symptoms even worse.
Alcohol can cause self-harm. It may be true that alcohol can make you feel 'more carefree'. However, this can lead you to behave in such a way that you might not have if you weren't under the influence of alcohol. This 'impulsive actions' may only put you in harm's way.
"While alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood, in the long term it can cause big problems for our mental health."
Alcohol can worsen symptoms of depression. One of the worst symptoms of depression is to have thoughts about taking one's own life. High levels of alcohol can lead to a lack of self-control, which can increase the risk of committing suicide. Studies show that most cases of attempted and completed suicide are linked to alcohol.
Insomnia or having sleep problems is another depression symptom that can be worsened by alcohol. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can deprive you of having a good sleep.
"Up to 40 per cent of people who drink heavily have symptoms that resemble a depressive illness."
The good news is that, there are lots of things you can do to help you overcome depression and alcoholism as well. One important step you can take is to be among those who aren't into drinking. Surround yourself with people who you can get support from. This can include people who may be similarly experiencing what you're going through, but are also working their way towards their recovery. It can be a good idea to look for a support group, either locally or through the internet.
Seek professional help. A good therapist can guide you as to how you can develop the skill of 'saying no'. Understand that it's only you who's ultimately responsible for your own recovery. So, it's important for you to refuse and avoid places, people or things that can trigger your depression or the urge to take another sip of alcohol.
"You are responsible for your own sober recovery as well as taking care of your own depression."
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