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Why Alcohol and Depression Are Not a Good Match
Sometimes a drink helps relieve your symptoms of depression but it’s not the best approach to take. Find out what happens when you mix alcohol with your mental illness.
The relationship between alcohol and depression is a lot more closely-tied than you might imagine. It’s common for people to go out for a few drinks after an upsetting event. The loss of a job, the end of a fun relationship, or another stressful event usually leads friends to take their sad friend out for a drink. But does this really help?
It’s one thing to drink when you’re temporarily upset but what about people who struggle with clinical depression? Thousands of people self-medicate their low self-esteem and negative beliefs about the world with alcohol. It might seem like it helps in the short term but what truly happens when you mix alcohol and depression?
Combining alcohol and depression is never a good idea. Drinking to fix your sadness is only a temporary solution. It never offers any true relief. On the contrary, drinking truly worsens your depression and encourages your negative outlook on the world. It could also land you in a much bigger dilemma than what encouraged your drinking in the first place.
Why is drinking while depressed such a bad idea?
The Dangers of Alcohol and Depression
It’s fun to have a few drinks with friends from time to time as a way to relax on the weekends or after a long day at work. Millions of people safely unwind from a stressful day or week with a drink. They leave it at a drink or two, though, and put it down when they’ve had enough. Plenty of people consume alcohol like this without any consequence.
There are people who turn to alcohol as the solution to all of their problems, though. They don’t know how to make it through a difficult time without reaching for a glass or a bottle. People who drink this way are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. And if they struggle with depression they only add to their problems.
Effects of Alcohol Consumption
Everyone understands the risk associated with drinking alcohol. It directly affects your brain and central nervous system even in small amounts. These effects on your central nervous system seem like a few drinks helps you relax and unwind but they’re really the result of lowered inhibitions.
Alcohol impacts your decision-making abilities, your reaction time, and your perception of your surroundings. It increases your risk of getting yourself into harmful or dangerous situations for both you and those around you. Additionally, it is a depressant substance meaning it leads to a decrease in mood and positive outlook over time.
If you drink too much you’re more likely to make bad decisions. Even this alone can cause you to feel worse about yourself. When you consider people who drink while they’re depressed, though, they put themselves in an even more dangerous position. What happens to people who mix alcohol and depression?
Combining Alcohol and Depression
If you are prone to depression it’s best for you to completely avoid alcohol. Still, it’s common for people who struggle with depression and other types of mental illness to drink alcohol. Drinking offers short-term relief from various symptoms of mental illness. It makes it easier to socialize and sometimes turns the focus away from a negative view of the world.
This short-term relief isn’t a long-term solution, though. And relying on alcohol as a way to solve your symptoms of depression only increases your risk of developing alcoholism and alcohol abuse. It doesn’t help you work through the things that encourage your depressive episodes nor does it give you the tools to handle bad days.
Instead, alcohol masks your negative beliefs about yourself and feelings about the world. Some people find their negative feelings return a few hours later or the following day. Others can’t escape them even while drinking. But one thing is for sure: the depression is always waiting for you at some point until you learn to handle it.
One of the most dangerous effects of combining alcohol and depression is decreased inhibitions. This negatively affects even people without mental health issues. But it can be deadly for those who deal with suicidal ideation or suicide attempts. According to the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, 75 percent of people who commit suicide have at least one drug in their body.
The Impact of Alcohol on Depression Treatment
You’ll need to seek professional help if you want to overcome your depression. Working with a psychiatrist and a therapist gives you the tools you need to work on your mental health. If you’re still drinking, though, it interferes with successful treatment. You need to first stop combining your alcohol and depression before the work can take effect.
If you find you can’t quit drinking you might need the help of a dual diagnosis facility like Hawaii Island Recovery. These facilities specialize in working with people who have both mental illness and substance or alcohol abuse issues. You’ll first quit drinking then you start working through your depression.