September 8, 2009

Link Between Alcoholism & Depression

Posted in Category : Depression

Alcohol and depression have a well proven link, and are often seen in a vicious circle, where one fuels the other. Depression can be described as a condition, and even an illness, which brings feelings of sadness, hopelessness, unhappiness and a pessimistic outlook to life. It saps the best from life. Sometimes it’s only temporary, but it can also become chronic. Depression also bring with it anxiety and attacks of anxiety.

Alcohol is well known as a depressant, so it seems to be common sense that people with depression shouldn’t drink. But, that’s not often the case, and people who are depressed often turn to alcohol. That may be because alcohol brings temporary feelings of well being or happiness. But, the effect it has can actually be disastrous, as many people know.

Depression is a problem of the mind, but the depression that alcohol causes actually starts in your body. Alcohol plays havoc with chemicals in your brain. It lowers serotonin and nerepinephrine levels in your brain. There are the chemicals that are responsible for giving you that ‘feel good’ sensation and a feeling of wellbeing. In fact, anti-depressants increase the levels of these chemicals. Drinking alcohol over long periods of time can permanently change the levels of these chemicals, making a person need alcohol to bring back the feeling of wellbeing. The good news is that when you stop, the body heals itself, and eventually returns to normal.

Another effect of alcohol is that it nullifies the effects of stress hormones for a while. That’s the reason you feel even worse when the alcohol wears off. How many times have you said, “I’m never drinking again?” only to go back to it the next day.

Even small amounts of alcohol, like a glass a day, can eventually have such an impact. Regular binge drinking can have serious long term damage. Every time you drink, the alcohol wipes out the vitamins in your body. A deficiency of folic acid contributes to brain aging. In older people, it even leads to dementia. This deficiency aids overall depression. By destroying antioxidants and free radicals, alcohol generally makes you less healthy, and this also makes you unhappier.

Research shows that alcohol may activate a gene that is linked to depression and other mental problems. This may cause not just depression, but other more serious problem like manic depression and seizures. Therefore, it’s a vicious cycle that one has to break out of, but if you stop alcohol, its guaranteed that you’ll feel better.

If you feel the need to quit alcohol, you’ve already begun on your journey to quitting alcohol. A will to quit is the most important prerequisite. Alcoholism is accepted as a disease, and there are cures available. Group counseling, as offered by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, can be very successful in the fight against alcoholism. Other interventions include behavior therapy, prevention therapy, aversion therapy and behavioral modification techniques. Many people also report success with meditation and acceptance techniques. Consult your doctor or counselor for more advice on fighting alcoholism.