Some individuals turn to alcohol to cope with symptoms of depression. In contrast, some individuals may discover an underlying mental health disorder such as depression after drinking alcohol regularly. While drinking may begin as a few drinks, it can quickly lead individuals to build tolerance, thus developing a substance use dependency and perpetuating the symptoms of a co-occurring disorder. It may be unclear what occurs first; however, it is clear that depression and alcohol share a connection. 

Relationship Between Alcohol Use and Depression

Work, home life, and other everyday challenges can lead to stress, and such stress can feed depression and trigger someone to want to drink to cope. Likewise, drinking to cope with stress can uncover an underlying mental health condition such as depression. Alcohol use and depression feed off one another. It does not mean that they coincide, but rather one could influence another. 

Depressive Symptoms May Influence Alcohol Use

Many patients who struggle with depression tend to develop an alcohol dependency. It is essential to understand that depression is a mental health concern, and it is more than “feeling blue.” Over time, when an individual becomes depressed, the emotions change how they respond to different challenges and activities. This is because depression can alter an individual’s thoughts and behaviors. Using alcohol to cope can lead to a cycle of bad habits leaving individuals feeling overwhelmed. 

For some, life’s challenges might seem easy to deal with; however, everyday challenges can feel like an impossible task when someone has an underlying mental health disorder. When individuals struggle with depression, it can change how they perceive life itself. It’s not as easy as simply getting over the emotion, as depression tends to embellish their everyday function. 

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Feeling guilt
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Thoughts of suicide

Depression can influence an individual’s decisions about what they want on a day-to-day basis. If the individual chooses to use alcohol to cope, their consumption can alter neurotransmitters within the brain. Therefore, depressive symptoms can trigger the impulse to use alcohol. In turn, and over time, alcohol use intensifies depressive symptoms causing individuals to lack responsibility and lose interests in activities they once enjoyed. Continuing this cycle will cause individuals to develop frequent depressive episodes and increase the urgency of needing professional intervention.

Everything you need to know about depression
All You Need to Know About Depression

What are the differences between sadness and depression? Learn more about depression, a mood disorder that affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life.

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Alcohol May Influence Depressive Symptoms 

Alcohol use can alter an individual’s thoughts and behaviors and perpetuate symptoms related to depression. Alcohol use in relation to depressive symptoms can increase the risk of accidents and suicide. Therefore, it is vital to understand that without appropriate treatment, individuals are more prone to be at risk for developing other mental health and substance use disorders when they use alcohol. 

Signs of alcoholism include: 

  • Turning to alcohol to deal with stress
  • Choosing alcohol over responsibilities
  • Consuming higher amounts each time you drink
  • Feeling withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink

Additionally, individuals who drink alcohol may not experience symptoms of an underlying mental health disorder such as depression until they drink regularly. As their consumption becomes more prevalent, their brain changes on a chemical level, creating chemical imbalances, leading to increased sadness and the potential to develop depression. Luckily, it is possible to reduce symptoms related to depression if you stop drinking. 

Finding Help for Alcohol Use and Depression

There are many ways individuals can find help for their alcohol use and depression. Finding help begins with finding an appropriate diagnosis. Treatment centers such as Hawaii Island Recovery focus on screening patients for thorough health history. This process will help rule out or determine underlying mental health and substance use disorders. Treatment centers often only focus on mental health or substance use disorders. Therefore, diagnosis plays a vital role in selecting the best approach to care.  

Taking the appropriate measures for screening allows facilities such as Hawaii Island to locate any co-occurring disorders and work to treat both simultaneously. Addressing both disorders helps patients learn coping mechanisms to manage each disorder. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) allow therapists to locate the source of a patient’s addiction or mental health disorder, thus enabling them to determine the onset. Sometimes depression is linked to past trauma, which leads to substance use. Sometimes regular substance use, whether used to cope with stress or socialize, can lead to depression. 

Ultimately, in premiere centers for drug and alcohol treatment, patients receive the direction and guidance to help with both identifying alcohol use and depression. Patients will begin by going through detox to eliminate the alcohol from their body, then move towards the path to recovery path and continuing care.

At Hawaii Island Recovery, we focus on getting to the root of your mental health and addiction disorders. With a thorough diagnosis program, we are able to find the best treatment for you. Whether you need treatment for mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders, we can help. With us, you will have access to resources that will allow you and your family to learn about addiction and manage addiction. Our beautiful Hawaii drug and alcohol treatment center provides the peace, inspiration, and beauty you need to recover; that way, when you embark on your road to recovery, you will feel motivated and revitalized. If you or a loved one has been through a traumatic or life-altering event and is using alcohol to cope, then the time to reach out is now. Our admissions staff is available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more, call (866) 390-5070.

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If you or a loved one need help, call Hawaii Island Recovery toll-free right now.