Alcohol And Depression

What is Depression?

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by a sad, hopeless, empty, or helpless mood that is present mostly every day and continues most of the day for at least two weeks. Everyone feels anxious or sad every now and then; however, the feelings connected with depression are considerably more long-lasting and intense than the “ups and downs” of daily life. Sometimes depression means irritability. Depression may also include physical symptoms such as sleep difficulties, fatigue, and weight changes. It can also be the cause of guilt, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts |1|.

Depression may occur in a single episode or be a recurrent condition. A person could be diagnosed with major depression (which can be mild, moderate, or severe) or persistent depression. Treatments that involve psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), and other elements of an individualized treatment program can help improve their coping skills, improve daily functioning, manage symptoms, and go on to lead a full and meaningful life. An individualized alcohol rehab treatment program can include group therapy for family members and positive family or peer support.

What Causes Depression?

Health care professionals and researchers do not completely understand what causes depression |2|. It is not likely that a single factor causes depression. It is most likely caused by a mixture of things such as chemical changes in the brain, genetics (such as family history of someone having depression), or environmental factors. In addition, traumatic experiences can also add to the development of mental disorders. If you or your loved one has experienced a traumatic incident, it is critical to share that information with their mental health specialist.

Alcohol and Depression
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Types of Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder

This causes severe symptoms that must be present for at least two weeks to get the diagnosis. Symptoms affect the ability to work, sleep, eat, study, and function.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

It is also known as dysthymia. This causes less severe symptoms than major depression. However, symptoms tend to last longer (at least two years in a lot of cases).

Postpartum Depression

This is also known as perinatal depression. It is a type of major depression that can happen to women throughout pregnancy or after they give birth.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Individuals can experience depressive symptoms because of seasonal changes, such as limited or lack of exposure to daylight. While it can happen any time of year, it usually begins in the fall or early winter and it goes away in the spring or summer.

Psychotic Depression

They were likewise known as depression with psychosis. This is a severe form of depression where individuals experience hallucinations (hearing, seeing, feeling, or smelling things that aren’t there) or delusions (believing things that aren’t true)

Bipolar Disorder

This is different from depression. However, a person with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of irritable or low moods that meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.

Medication- or Substance-Induced Depression

It is a type of depression where depressive symptoms develop during or soon after exposure to a substance (such as intoxication) or medication or while undergoing withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or drugs.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • Frustration, irritability, or restlessness
  • Feeling inappropriately or excessively guilty, helpless, or worthless
  • Losing pleasure or interest in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Talking or moving more slowly than usual
  • Difficulty remembering, thinking, or making decisions
  • Changes in sleep pattern, such as trouble staying or falling asleep (insomnia) or sleeping more than usual (hypersomnia).
  • Changes in appetite with notable weight loss or weight gain (for example, a change of more than 5% of body weight)
  • Having thoughts of suicide, self-harm, death, or making suicidal attempts
  • Pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that aren’t easily explainable and do not improve with treatment

Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

  • Drinking frequently, even daily
  • Drinking too much in any one episode
  • Sneaking alcohol so others won’t observe it
  • Continually craving alcohol
  • Avoiding activities to drink
  • Continued drinking despite symptoms of depression or a mood disorder
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences, both to physical health and personal relationships

The Connection Between Drinking Alcohol and Depression

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) |3|, given that symptoms of depression co-occur with alcohol dependence in about 80 percent of patients and that 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime.

Alcohol And Depression
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Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been properly diagnosed, usually turn to alcohol to escape. Hopeless and desperate to feel better or anesthetize the pain, even for a small amount of time. Individuals who suffer from depression often use the numbing and pleasurable effects of alcohol for that purpose. Alcohol abuse is prevalent among people who suffer from depression. Drinking alcohol may increase depression, anxiety, and other mental health condition. This is according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) |4|

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows the body down. Researches have consistently shown that alcohol consumption increases both the severity and the duration of depressive episodes. Alcohol also increases the possibility, frequency, and severity of suicidal thoughts. It can also cause other stressors in life, such as family and work problems that worsen depression.

Effects of Alcohol and Depression

  • Substance like alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain, therefore increasing the risk of depression.
  • Alcohol has the same depressant effect in younger individuals as it does in adults.
  • Hangovers can create a cycle of waking up feeling sick, anxious, jittery, and guilty.
  • Life gets more complicated – arguments with friends or family, trouble at work, memory, and relationship problems.
  • As a person get older, the amount of water in the body becomes less. In addition, our liver is less able to break down alcohol carried in the blood.

Alcohol and Depression Linked to Covid-19

  • Alcohol consumption does not protect the person from COVID-19.
  • Alcohol consumption weakens the body’s ability to fight infections, increasing the risk of complications and making it harder to get better if the person becomes sick.
  • Alcohol use can increase the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, which are sometimes associated with COVID-19.
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  • Individuals drinking more alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to more suffering from depression and anxiety
  • A lot of people were using alcohol as a means to cope with the lockdown and depression.
  • Alcohol is a natural depressant. The anxiety they felt around Covid-19, that increased. The isolation didn’t help.
  • Studies showed one in five people experienced depressive symptoms in early 2021, more than double the amount seen before the pandemic |5|.

Drinking Alcohol and Depression – A Vicious Cycle

Drinking regularly and heavily is one of the many symptoms of depression. although it can be hard to separate and distinguish the cause and effect. This means it’s not always easy to identify whether drinking alcohol causes an individual to experience symptoms of depression. What we know for sure is that alcohol affects several nerve-chemical systems within our bodies which are important in regulating our mood. 

Studies show that depression can result from heavy drinking. And that stopping or reducing drinking can improve mood. In addition, medications prescribed for depression should not be mixed with alcohol. A lot of commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications tend to increase the risk of relapse to heavy drinking in people who are trying to cut down or abstain from alcohol, so antidepressants should be only taken with great caution and only when prescribed by your doctor.

How Long Does Alcohol-Induced Depression Last?

The length of time of alcohol-induced depression can change widely. Generally speaking, depressive symptoms connected with alcohol-induced depression have been shown to improve significantly after the person abstained from alcohol for a certain amount of time, usually three to four weeks in most cases. However, studies also suggest that substance-induced depression can transform into independent depression if symptoms of depression persist following the person’s stopped consuming alcohol.

How Are They Diagnosed?

The doctor will likely conduct a psychological evaluation and a physical exam. These tests help them assess your risk factors for either condition. This multi-test approach will help them rule out other conditions that might account for the symptoms. Moreover, if an individual is diagnosed with one of these conditions, the doctor may ask about the symptoms of the other. This is a common part of diagnosis because both so frequently happen together. Alcohol rehab dual diagnosis is a great way to receive the help you are waiting for.

Find the Alcohol and Depression Treatment at We Level Up NJ

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol and depression disorder, get them the safest help they need and deserve. We Level Up NJ offers a safe and medically assisted Dual Diagnosis Alcohol and Depression Disorder Treatment. Contact our team today!

Sources

|1||2| SAMHSA – https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-5003.pdf

|3| NIAAA – https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh40/109-117.htm

|4||5| CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/stress-coping/alcohol-use.html

[5] We Level UpDrug Addiction And Depression