Does Alcohol Cause Depression?

Alcohol and Depression

While drinking moderate amount of alcohol is good for your health, some people turn to copious amounts of alcohol to drown their distress after the occurrence of a major life tragedy such as death of a loved one, job loss, divorce or other sorrowful life events. Alcohol is known to have a sedative effect on human brain. A few glasses or bottles of wine can seem to mask anxiety thus making you feel peaceful and more relaxed.

Consumption of alcohol as a way of dealing with problems is termed as alcohol abuse, with studies showing depressed people turn to alcohol to cope. Moreover, alcohol abuse on its own can also trigger depression. Nonetheless, research is split when it comes to addressing the question of whether depressed people tend to drink excessively, or the frequent consumption of alcohol is what triggers depression.

Alcohol Increases Anxiety

While a glass of wine may temporarily bring about feelings of relaxation, it can contribute to anxiety and depression in the long run and make it harder to deal with stress. This is mainly due to the direct neurotoxic effects of severe alcohol exposure to the brain. In other words, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are vital for ensuring good mental health, reports Action on Depression.

Link between Alcohol and Depression

There are various ways in which alcohol and depression are correlated, with new studies establishing that alcohol affects the brain in the same way in which depression affects the brain. The parts of the brain that control anxiety, appetite and mood that seem to be affected in a depressed person are also influenced by alcohol.
There are several potential social and psychological explanations for the existing link between alcohol and depression. This includes stressful life experiences that can precipitate both depression and alcohol problems.

Also, there is an increased likelihood that alcohol problems and depression are possibly inherited. This is because alcohol problems tend to be more evident in the children of parents who are alcohol addicts. Nonetheless, it is however difficult to identify what precisely is inherited. Perhaps it could be the difference in the way in which alcohol affects various parts of the brain or tolerance to the alcohol.

Treatment of Alcohol Problem and Depression

Alcohol abuse and depression tend to have some similar symptoms. This makes it difficult to diagnose whether a person is suffering from depression or an alcohol-related mental condition. Since heavy alcohol consumption leads to depression, doctors usually recommend first sorting out the drinking problem and then observing whether the patient reports no further incidences of depression-related symptoms.

If it does not, then a specific treatment regime for the depression is prescribed. The treatment involves using drugs containing the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that can cure both the alcohol problem and depression. As for patients with alcohol problems, the patient’s body is detoxified to rid it of alcohol-related toxins using drugs such as diazepam or chlordiazepoxide. Moreover, the patient can be enrolled in a counseling program to ensure he or she drinks moderate or controlled amounts of alcohol in future.


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