For some, depression hits first and drinking becomes a way to self-medicate. “Therapeutic interventions designed to address both issues often include a focus on addressing emotional pain or trauma, as well as developing and practicing healthy coping behaviors,” says Dr. Kennedy. Depression can also be directly caused by alcohol in the case of a substance-induced disorder.
Does alcohol have an effect on depression?
Alcohol is a depressant: it alters the delicate balance of chemicals in your brain. Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with depression.
In some cases, you may receive a dual diagnosis of a major depressive disorder (MDD) and an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This co-occurring disorder isn’t uncommon, but it can be difficult to treat. This article outlines the connection between alcohol and depression, how the two disorders align, identifies treatment options, and ways to cope. Consistent with the generally negative results of these family type studies are the conclusions drawn from a recent study of 1,030 female-female twin pairs (Kendler et al. 1995).
Is There A Connection Between Depression And Alcoholism?
Consider looking into holistic therapies such as yoga or meditation. Read our review of the best online therapy options to find the right fit for you. CBT can teach you ways to modify your thoughts and behavior to feel better and help you avoid misusing alcohol.
Your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam and a psychological evaluation. These tests help them calculate your risk factors for either condition. This multi-test approach will help them rule out other conditions that might account for your symptoms. Alcohol use disorder and depression are two conditions that often occur together.
Finding Treatment for Alcohol Addiction and Depression
For those struggling with depression, this oblivion can be the most accessible escape from their feelings. For example, a person with frequent episodes of severe depression may turn to drinking to self-medicate. People who frequently drink are more likely to experience episodes of depression, and they may drink more in an attempt to feel better. Among people with major depressive disorder, the co-occurrence of AUD ranges from 27 to 40 percent over a lifetime, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Alcohol-induced depressive disorder is a depression-like condition that happens only when drinking alcohol and shortly after withdrawal. Feelings of sadness, lack of energy or trouble sleeping can be common occurrences that individuals experience in their daily lives. Losing a job, the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship can naturally cause feelings of grief. And often, people may use the word “depressed” as a way to verbalize how they are feeling. Have you found it difficult to control, cut back on, or quit drinking entirely?
How Alcohol Makes Your Depression Symptoms Worse
These serious consequences could trigger a depressive episode and kick off a cycle of alcohol and depression. For example, if someone is experiencing depression, they may drink as a way to cope—and at first they may seem to feel better. But drinking too much alcohol often increases symptoms of depression which can then lead to more drinking or other drug use in an attempt to reduce worsening depression. Drinking more alcohol to manage worsening symptoms only continues the cycle. Depression is defined as a prolonged period of feeling sad, lonely, hopeless, lost, worthless, devoid of energy, apathetic, and even suicidal. Almost everyone goes through at least a few periods of depression during their life.
We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. This occurs when depression symptoms, such as feelings of sadness and worthlessness, interfere with a person’s daily life.
Because alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous – and even kill you – make sure you have medical advice from your doctor or a rehab facility when you decide to stop drinking. In a recent study by The Recovery Village, 44% of respondents used alcohol to cope with mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression. If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, you may benefit from substance abuse counseling and treatment programs that can help you overcome your misuse of alcohol. Joining a support group or a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous may help. Please note that it is critically important to treat alcohol use disorders and depression simultaneously. Prolonged alcohol abuse can drastically change and rewire the brain as well as impact many other chemical balances in the body.
People with AUD and depression often experience the most symptom relief when they receive treatment for both disorders at the same time. It’s a pervasive condition that affects a person’s outlook on themselves and the world around them. People with depression can’t “get over it.” The sense of hopelessness touches on every aspect of their life. Drinking more than three drinks in a single sitting will temporarily cause your blood pressure to rise, but extended binge drinking or regular alcohol consumption can cause a permanent increase in blood pressure. It’s easy to see how depression and alcoholism become a cycle for many, difficult to break. But with the proper treatment that focuses on dual diagnoses, it is possible to get sober and treat depression the right way, without self-medicating.
Get help for alcoholism today.
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