How Depression Relates to Problem Drinking

For years, there has been a correlation between depression and problem drinking, it’s not exactly breaking news. The problem is that for many they know that depression and alcohol abuse are linked but they don’t really understand how depression relates to problem drinking. The first thing you must know, alcohol in all its forms is a natural depressant. Now does this mean that drinking is going to automatically make you depressed? No, not at all, when you hear the term depressant associated with alcohol it is being used in a more general term. Alcohol when consumed in excess “depresses” or inhibits our ability to function normally, it slows down vital functions. One of these functions is our bodies natural ability to fight symptoms of depression and keep a level head. If you are feeling down or depressed when sober, once intoxicated the feeling of hopelessness or general depression will be much more prevalent.

Alcohol exacerbates the symptoms of depression

For this reason, (among many) the habit of drinking to “relieve stress” is extremely dangerous. Because alcohol is addictive you can become dependent on it. Which is bad enough on its own but if you are also struggling with depression, the constant presence of alcohol in your system can exponentially increase the symptoms of the depression. Some studies have even shown that alcohol can trigger a genetic vulnerability to depression. Meaning if you are already predisposed to depression (even if it is not present) alcohol can greatly increase your risk of becoming depressed.

Seek help to break the spiral of addiction

Problem drinking or alcoholism is nothing to mess with. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism treatment should be sought. Because it is so addictive most people who have a problem with drinking are unsuccessful when they attempt to quit on their own. A structured detox program followed by a 12-step recovery program is one of the best ways to end your dependence on alcohol. These types of programs are successful for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons though is the support you can receive and reciprocate. As humans, we are much more likely to succeed at anything we do when we are surrounded by a group of individuals all working towards the same goal. A support system of people who know exactly what you are going through means that you will always have someone to talk to who is either going through the same thing or has already gone through it. For a lot of people admitting that they need help is hard, it is worth it though, treatment groups are meant to be a safe place where you are not judged. They will greatly increase the chances of success.

About Joan Swart, PsyD, Forensic Psychologist and lecturer

Joan Swart is a forensic psychologist, lecturer, and business developer at Open Forest LLC. She authored two books titled “Treating Adolescents with Family-Based Mindfulness” (Springer, 2015) and “Homicide: A Forensic Psychology Casebook” (CRC, 2016). She is a contributor to Hubpages and HuffPost.

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More on: Addiction, Alcohol, Depression, Drinking
Latest update: February 3, 2017
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