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What Are the Co-occurring Effects of Alcohol and Depression?

Depending on your situation, you may believe drinking is either a way to relax and enjoy time with friends or a coping mechanism. After all, everyone has moments when they need an escape from the stresses of life. Even so, it’s important to be mindful of how much you drink and when you drink it. Drinking too much alcohol at any given point can lead to negative consequences that outweigh the benefits.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 14 million adults in the United States have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). In other words, they cannot control how much alcohol they consume regularly. Anytime you drink alcohol, there are risks associated with it — especially if you struggle with addictive tendencies. We’ll explore some of those risks below.

How Does Depression Relate to Alcohol Abuse?

When you have co-occurring disorders, you have two or more mental health disorders at the same time. Depression and alcohol abuse often go hand-in-hand. According to a paper published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, the most common psychiatric disorder to co-occur with AUD is major depressive disorder. It’s not just that depressed people are more likely to turn to alcohol; it’s also that alcohol can increase depressive symptoms. This is because alcohol affects brain chemistry.

Short-Term Effects of Drinking When Depressed

When you drink alcohol when you’re depressed, you’re likely to experience a short-term mood boost, at least in the beginning. As the alcohol wears off, though, you’re likely to experience a major low. The first signs of alcohol abuse are usually a frequent need to drink more alcohol to get the same “high” or calm. This is known as “tolerance.” Your body is becoming dependent on alcohol to function properly, and this can create a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse.

Long-Term Effects of Drinking When Depressed

If you’re someone who drinks too much, it may be because you’re dealing with depression and alcohol abuse at the same time. This can be a very dangerous combination to experience. The long-term effects of alcohol abuse combined with depression can be devastating. You may experience health issues, relationship problems, and financial issues as a result of alcohol abuse. Depression and alcohol abuse can also cause you to make poor decisions in your life. You may find that you’re fired from a job or kicked out of school. The long-term effects of alcohol abuse can be horrible.

Whatever your reason for turning to alcohol, try to keep in mind that the brain chemistry of alcohol and depression don’t mix well. While you may think alcohol might ease depression, it can actually make it worse. Alcohol as a coping mechanism could be a sign of a much deeper problem, and if that’s the case, it might be time to look to mental health care professionals for guidance.

Even if you’re not sure if you struggle with alcohol abuse, it’s important to understand the risks of consuming alcohol. Be mindful of your consumption habits and know your limits. The last thing you want is to experience the dangerous long-term effects of alcohol abuse. If you or someone you love thinks that you may have a problem with alcohol, don’t hesitate to seek help. The Guest House has many options to help you heal and recover from alcohol abuse. Call (855) 483-7800 for more information.