Tips for Overcoming Depression and Alcohol Abuse Related Misery

Alcohol and depression are often spoken about as separate entities that sometimes co-mingle. Individuals have often noted their depression being on onsetting factor for why they drink. The more depressed an individual felt, the more they drank, in an effort to cope with their intense sadness.

Despite this tendency amongst people to binge drink when experiencing intense emotional distress, many individuals have failed to realize that depression and alcohol abuse work in tandem with each other. Alcohol and depression work together, to intensify depressive symptoms, and ultimately fail to make anyone feel better. Drinking more leads to more feelings of despondence, misplacement, and loneliness.

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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
  • Self-isolating
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling irritable
  • You get easily frustrated
  • Feeling restless
  • Have trouble falling asleep
  • Oversleeping
  • Insomnia
  • 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

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There are many signs and symptoms of depression that can occur in a person, and they can either be very prevalent or well hidden. It is important to seek treatment, or therapy options, if you are feeling depressed. There is no need to suffer alone. Individuals who suffer from an alcohol addiction or abuse disorder may also exhibit signs and symptoms of excessive use, including:

  • Being unable to limit the amount you drink, or cut yourself off.
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink, or making unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop drinking altogether.
  • Spending a lot of time, or an excessive amount of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use.
  • Experiencing a strong urge, need, or craving to drink alcohol.
  • Failing to fulfill work, school, friend, or family obligations as a result of repeated alcohol use.
  • Continuing to drink, even though you know it is causing you physical, social, and psychological problems.
  • Giving up on, or reducing your participation in hobbies, school, work, or family / friend gatherings or services.
  • Using alcohol in an unsafe manner or in unsafe situations, such as drinking and then driving or swimming.
  • Developing an increasing tolerance to alcohol, so that it has a reduced effect on you, and thus drinking more to produce the original effect.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms – sweating, shaking, nausea – when you do not drink.

Alcohol and Depression Treatment

So you may be wondering about how to treat alcoholism and depression at this point. Do you need medication, to see a doctor, or just refuse to drink altogether? Treatment for depression and alcohol dependence is much like any other type of drug addiction treatment program. Depending on your specific needs, your doctor will help you to determine your next best steps. In the case of depression, education about the condition, as well as mindful lifestyle changes (such as maintaining a consistent exercise routine), may be added to aid other types of therapies during treatment.

Treatment for alcohol abuse disorder also starts with a visit to your primary care physician, to determine your next best steps. Alcohol addiction treatment can also consist of education on the disorder, and mindful lifestyle changes, such as staying away from bars, and getting regular exercise. Both alcohol and depression treatments can include the use of medications, inpatient therapies, outpatient therapies, and support groups. Although support groups are not used very often in the treatment of depressed persons.

Alcohol and Depression Meds

Both alcohol and depression treatment centers make use of different kinds of medications. Depending on the person, and their individual needs, as well as the other types of medications they may be already taking, an alcohol and depression treatment center will make a very informed and calculated decision, involving medical personnel, to fit a client with a medication best suited to them. Common alcohol and depression meds include:

  • Depression Treatment Medications:
    • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
    • Celexa (Citalopram)
    • Paxil (Paroxetine)
    • Effexor (Venlafaxine)
    • Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
    • Elavil (Amitriptyline)
    • Tofranil (Imipramine)
    • Pamelor (Nortriptyline)
    • Nardil (Phenelzine)
    • Parnate (Tranylcypromine)
    • Remeron (Mirtazapine)
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion)

How to Help Someone with Depression and Alcohol Abuse

At this point, you may be wondering how to help someone with depression and alcohol abuse, or how to help someone with depression and alcoholism. The best way to help with alcohol and depression disorders is to first educate yourself, and learn how to recognize the warning signs for when someone may need to seek professional help. Be there for people, be patient with them, and encourage them to seek professional help when the time comes. Most of all, do not give up on them, your love and support can make a world of a difference.

For immediate support in overcoming alcoholism and depression, call SJRP to speak with an admissions specialist at 833-397-3422.


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