How Does Alcohol Affect Depression & Anxiety?
Most individuals consume alcohol at least once during their lifetime. In fact, nearly 86.3% of adults, ages 18 and older, admit to having consumed alcohol at least once in their lives. For many adults, social functions, relaxation and coping techniques revolve around the use of alcohol. Depression, a mental health issue that causes severe anxiousness, tiredness, irritability, and overwhelming sadness for a long period of time, is one issue many people try to cover up or cope with through drinking. Yet, what many people fail to realize, is that drinking alcohol leads to depression, or can lead to depression, or the worsening of depressive symptoms and episodes.
But how does alcohol affect depression and anxiety specifically? Overall, the relationship of alcohol, depression, and anxiety is complex and works in a multifaceted way, and there are many models in which alcohol is used to try to cope with both anxiety and depression as separately occurring issues, and co-occurring problems.
Ultimately, it is important for you to remember that alcohol is a depressant itself, meaning that when it is used, even correctly, it causes a drowsiness and sedation. When it is used incorrectly, such as the use of alcohol to try and cope with either depression, anxiety or other negative emotion management, alcohol has been known to actually worsen the problems, as drinking affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, responsible for anxiety and mood management. Although it has been noted that both people struggling with depression and anxiety, tend to drink more alcohol than the average person, leading to the potential of developing an alcohol addiction.
Is Alcohol Abuse Caused by Depression?
You may be wondering now, whether or not depression causes alcohol abuse. The development of an alcohol abuse disorder is a little more complex than that. Depression does not inherently cause alcohol abuse. But, alcohol increases depression and its symptoms, when consumed by a depressed person. Alcohol increases depressive symptoms even in non-depressed individuals, as it is a suppressant by nature.
Although the severity of symptoms you may experience, can vary based on you as an individual, how much you have consumed, what type of alcohol you are consuming, and whether or not there is anything else in your system to absorb the alcohol. Overall alcohol abuse can be onset by a multitude of factors, not just whether or not an individual is depressed, but also drinks. Some causes of alcohol use disorder include (but are not limited to):
Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Depression?
So, if alcohol abuse can occur as a result of depression, can alcohol abuse cause depression itself? Does alcohol increase anxiety and depression overall? Alcohol is linked to depression in many ways. Alcohol abuse can be a symptom of depression, as it is used by an individual trying to cope with their feelings and surroundings. It can also cause depression in individuals who are going through a rough time, and then drink more to try and cope, and ultimately develop a dependence on alcohol. Alcohol has also been known to worsen anxiety, and anxiety disorders, especially with heavier use.
Signs of Depression and Alcohol Abuse
Depression and alcohol abuse both come with severe effects, signs, and symptoms. Some typical warnings signs, and symptoms, that you may be suffering from depression are:
- Feeling sad often, or all of the time
- Feeling anxious often, or all of the time
- Avoiding friends, even though you may want to spend time with them
- Avoiding family members, even though you may want to spend time with them
- Having a difficult time enjoying activities you normally enjoy participating in
- Feeling lonely
- Feeling irritable
- You get easily frustrated
- Feeling restless
- Have trouble falling asleep
- Eating more than usual
- Eating less than usual
- Poor or loss of appetite
- Ahces, pains, headaches
- Experiencing stomach issues
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling tired all of the time, even if you have already slept a great deal
- Overall feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Contemplating suicide
- Contemplating hurting yourself