Alcohol and Depression: Their Relationship
Alcohol and depression are related to each other.
These two can bring harm to a person.
Don’t let alcohol or depression take over your life.
Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness, although that is certainly a part of it. This is a serious mental health condition that is defined as a prolonged period of feeling hopeless, lost, worthless, lonely, apathetic, and even suicidal. It is not uncommon for depressed individuals to be devoid of energy, as they feel like nothing motivates them.
It is important to note that there are many forms of depression and almost everyone goes through at least a few periods of depression during their life. However, for some people, the problem is much more severe.
While the causes of depression are not clearly understood, there are genetic, personal, and environmental factors in play. And of course, alcohol has a complex relationship with this medical condition, which needs to be explored.
The Types of Depression
Depression can severely impact an individual’s personal and professional life. In some of the worst cases, it can potentially cause someone to take their own life. To better understand someone’s situation, it helps to identify what type of depression they are dealing with.
A major depressive disorder causes severe symptoms of depression. It gets to a point where it interferes with the person’s ability to function. Some people have only one episode, but others have several throughout their lives.
Individuals with major depressive disorder normally cycle through episodes of feeling very depressed and periods of feeling symptom-free. In the United States, this is considered the most common form of depression.
Another type of depression is persistent depressive disorder. This is a depressed mood that lasts for two or more years. In some cases, this can be a lifelong condition. It is also called dysthymia. It is a long and continuous low-grade depression or chronic depression.
Psychotic depression is a condition wherein sufferers experience symptoms of both severe depression and some form of psychosis. The person may experience visual and audio hallucinations as well as having false beliefs or delusions.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression caused by the hormonal and physical changes associated with pregnancy and giving birth. It may also be caused by having new responsibilities, particularly of caring for a newborn. Between 10 and 15 percent of new mothers experience this type of depression.
Seasonal affective disorder is also a type of depression. It begins during the late fall and winter months. As the amount of daily sunlight decreases, the individual experiences depressive symptoms. Light therapy is helpful for treating this condition.
Finally, there is bipolar disorder. Although this is no longer considered a form of depression, sufferers of this condition often alternate between periods of depression and mania—a state of heightened and exaggerated moods. This is also known as manic depression and bipolar depression. It is more often than not misdiagnosed as depression because most sufferers initially seek treatment for being depressed and do not understand or report the manic episodes.
Alcohol and Depression
Alcohol abuse and depression are closely correlated. Many people with depression, especially those who have not been properly diagnosed, often turn to alcohol in order to cope. Depressed individuals drink to experience the pleasurable effects of alcohol. At the same time, at least 30 to 40 percent of alcoholics also experience a depressive disorder.
This means it is quite common for alcohol use disorder and depression to become co-occurring disorders. When someone tries to cope with feelings of sadness using alcohol, they develop dependence on alcoholic drinks. At the same time, alcoholics become lonely or depressed when they become unable to control their drinking.
Both conditions can worsen the other, oftentimes leading to a damaging cycle of self-medicating alcohol and suffering from depression. These two conditions can easily overwhelm somebody.
Alcohol itself is a central nervous system depressant, meaning once it enters the body, it slows all processes down. Studies show that alcohol use increases both the duration and the severity of depressive episodes. Meaning people who use alcohol to cope with depression are actually making it more difficult for themselves. Alcohol also increases the likelihood, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts.
Alcohol can also cause depression. Continued use of alcohol can rewire the brain and cause many chemical imbalances in the body, which is particularly true of the brain’s neurotransmitters. These systemic changes can lead to depression.
The cycle of alcohol addiction and depression can be extremely difficult to break out of—but it is possible with proper medical attention.
Symptoms of Depression
The best way to deal with depression is to recognize its symptoms. This makes it possible for the person to consciously deal with their condition rather than believe that it is untreatable. A person who is depressed will lose their interest in important activities or hobbies they used to enjoy.
They may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, anger, and irritability. They may find it hard to concentrate on tasks or make decisions. The depressed individual will also have a general lack of energy. They may spend too much or too little time sleeping.
Other common symptoms of depression include: decrease in productivity, suicidal thoughts, and changes in appetite leading to weight loss or weight gain.
Treatment Options for Depression
Depression not only affects the individual but also the people around them. Changes in their behavior can damage their personal relationships. It can also limit their success in their career and generally reduce their enjoyment of life. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that depression contributes to numerous medical conditions.
Not to mention that a lot of depressed people avoid seeking treatment because of stigmas. Depression itself removes the motivation to seek help by making the person feel hopeless. This is especially true of men, who are far less likely to seek help for depression than women.
But treatment is widely available. Depression is treated with a combination of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, holistic therapy, counseling, and support groups
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.