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Can Alcoholism Affect a Person’s Depression?


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It’s quite common for alcoholism and depression to go hand in hand. Consider the last time you watched a movie or television show that involved a person lonely and drinking to their demise over a break-up, death of a loved one, or other form of tragedy. Sometimes these portrayals are stereotypical – after all, alcoholism doesn’t always just happen to those with depression. Many people do experience this, however, as an attempt to self-medicate – they believe that alcohol will calm their anxious minds, ease their troubles and take them to a completely different mindset – one where they no longer have to experience the pain their mind and heart feel. Although this may seem to work in the meantime, alcohol can actually worsen depression, making it a very unhealthy albeit dangerous coping mechanism.

In a study published in the journal Addiction, researchers found that alcohol use disorder (AUD) doubled a person’s risk for developing major depressive disorder (MDD), and the other way around, too. What might the reasons for this be? For one, alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it will impair your ability to think rationally and thoughtfully. If you’re having depressive thoughts, alcohol is likely to actually bring out the very thoughts you’re trying to suppress – making matters even worse, because you’re not in the “right train of thought” to deal with them in the first place. Dr. Richard Shadick, adjunct professor in the psychology department at Pace University, told Everyday Health,

“Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows down the body and the mind. In moderate to heavy amounts, drinking alcohol will only increase the depression.”

Secondly, a person’s genes may be responsible for making a person more susceptible to mental illness and addiction. Dr. Danielle M. Dick, professor at Washington University, told Very Well Mind that GABA receptor genes and certain chromosomes, such as GABRG3, influences a person’s risk factors for developing alcoholism; if depression gets involved as well, it’s likely that both mental illness and addiction could ensue. Lastly, prolonged alcoholism can change chemicals in the brain, which could lead to the development of depression. For these reasons, it’s important that you avoid using alcohol to resolve unwanted feelings – see a therapist and get enrolled in a reputable treatment program instead.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.