The Alcohol-Depression Connection: Symptoms, Treatment & More

Some people may drink to try to relieve the symptoms of mental ill-health. Seek help from a mental health professional if you have anxiety. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, seek help from your doctor right away. Moderate drinking is not the same for all genders and age groups. In the United States, “moderate” typically refers to two drinks a day for adult men and one for women. Older adults metabolize alcohol faster, so if you’re in this age group, limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage per day.

does alcohol make depression worse

In the long-term, alcohol uses up and reduces the number of neurotransmitters in our brains, but we need a certain level to ward off anxiety and depression. This can make you want to drink more to relieve these difficult feelings – which can start a cycle of dependence. If you are struggling with depression, don’t exacerbate your depression symptoms with alcohol.

Risk Factors for Anxiety

Sometimes (although not always) there’s a trigger for depression. Reach out to us today by filling out the contact form below with your name, contact information, and a brief message about your recovery journey. If your story is chosen, a member of our team will reach out to you. We may receive advertising fees if you follow links to promoted online therapy websites. Start making positive changes with the help of a licensed therapist from Calmerry. Join the thousands of people that have called a treatment provider for rehab information.

It’s often a lifelong commitment, but one that can improve your life, health, and well-being in the long term. If you are concerned about how alcohol may be impacting your life, the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor. In fact, the likely scenario is that you will eat unhealthy meals because you don’t have the time or energy to invest in smarter choices. Without getting too clinical, what’s important to know is that alcohol stimulates the automatic nervous system.

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It can lead to social problems such as relationship break-ups, unemployment, financial difficulties and homelessness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers education and support for patients and families affected by mental health disorders. “It helps to learn that you are not alone, that other families also have issues and to encourage loved ones to stay in treatment,” Dr. Anand says. Unfortunately, many addiction treatment facilities lack mental health professionals who can assess patients for mental illness. And mental health facilities often fail to address addiction issues, he says.

  • But if you have alcohol dependence and suddenly stop or reduce your intake, these receptors become excited.
  • And the same lines of research reveal that people living with depression often have serious folic acid deficiencies (Cooper & Bolander-Gouaille, 2005).
  • Don’t stop taking an antidepressant or other medication just so that you can drink.
  • However, drinking alcohol, especially heavily and over a long period of time, can actually increase your anxiety.

Over time, consuming too much alcohol can lead to blackouts, loss of memory, and even brain damage (especially if it causes other health problems, such as liver damage). These issues can create more anxiety as you cope with their symptoms. When does alcohol make depression worse dealing with stressful days or nervous situations, you may be tempted to have a glass of wine or a beer to calm your nerves. However, drinking alcohol, especially heavily and over a long period of time, can actually increase your anxiety.

How Alcohol Makes Your Depression Symptoms Worse

And because what goes up must come down, your mood will eventually nosedive. If you drink wine, beer, whiskey or other alcoholic beverages, there’s a good chance you already know they can interfere with sleep. And the same lines of research reveal that people living with depression often have serious folic acid deficiencies (Cooper & Bolander-Gouaille, 2005). Over the course of time, the reliance upon such beverages can transform into abuse. I’ll explain more about this below and have included a video designed to help deepen your understanding.

does alcohol make depression worse

Women are more than twice as likely to start drinking heavily if they have a history of depression. Experts say that women are more likely than men to overdo it when they’re down. During therapy, you can learn coping mechanisms that can help you return to life without drinking. Alcohol interacts with bipolar depression medication, decreasing or halting its effectiveness and creating side-effects that range from mild and annoying to potentially deadly. To make a long story short, depression becomes worse when you feel ashamed about your drinking behaviors. What’s unfortunate is that the lack of physical activity causes a person already struggling with issues of low self-esteem and/or body image issues to feel worse.

Take control of your life

SSRIs are shown to increase some people’s desire to drink.14 Alcohol can also worsen the side effects of antidepressants, which include dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, blurred vision, headaches, and more. Medical practitioners have discovered that to truly be effective in treating these conditions, they must be treated simultaneously. Treating depression alone does not stop alcohol use from occurring when an alcohol use disorder has developed. Just as treating an alcohol use disorder without treating depression does not typically result in successful outcomes.

  • Call 999, contact your local mental health crisis team or go straight to A&E if you’re able to safely.
  • As you increasingly depend on alcohol for pleasure, you will find other activities less enjoyable.
  • Several studies suggest that military veterans are more likely to experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and misuse alcohol.
  • If you’re physically dependent on alcohol and need to stop drinking completely, stopping suddenly could be harmful.
  • If you’re still experiencing symptoms of depression after a few weeks, the NHS advises you to contact your GP surgery.
  • Dopamine produces positive emotions that make you feel good and help reinforce your desire to drink, but alcohol affects your central nervous system in other ways, too.
  • If you’re having suicidal feelings, you can call Samaritans free any time.

If so, mental health services should be in charge of your treatment, rather than drug and alcohol services. If you’re worried about drinking or feel it’s affecting your mental health, a lot of help is available. It’s generally not recommended to drink if you’re taking antidepressants. Alcohol can make depression worse and increase the side effects of some antidepressants. If you’re trying to cut down or stop drinking, research shows some antidepressants can increase your risk of relapsing. The NHS website has more information on alcohol and antidepressants.