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Connection Between Alcohol And Depression, Causes, Statistics, Signs and Symptoms

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The impact of alcohol and depression can accelerate into rapid and dangerous addiction. Requiring medical assisted detox & dual diagnosis rehb treatment. Learn more about alcohol and depression, signs, symptoms, types, causes, effects, and diagnosis of drinking.

By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: November 3, 2022

Alcoholism and Depression Link

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental health 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 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 include physical symptoms such as sleep difficulties, fatigue, and weight changes. It can also cause 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 (mild, moderate, or severe) or persistent depression. Treatments involving 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 and daily functioning, manage symptoms and lead a whole and meaningful life. An individualized alcohol rehab treatment program can include group therapy for family members and cheerful family or peer support.

Alcohol and Depression
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What Causes Depression?

Healthcare professionals and researchers do not entirely understand what causes depression |2|. It is not likely that a single factor causes depression. It is most likely caused by a mixture of chemical changes in the brain, genetics (such as the 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 Statistics

After a disastrous breakup, a job loss, or another significant life hardship, some claim they turn to alcohol to “drown their sorrows.” And yes, a few beers or glasses of wine can appear to calm you and ease anxiety since alcohol makes you sleepy.


63.8%

There are high prevalence rates (63.8%) of major depression among alcohol-dependent persons.

Source: NIH

3.7X

A major depressive disorder is 3.7 times more common in people with alcohol dependence according to the DSM-IV.

Source: NIH

16%–68%

There is a 16%–68% prevalence rate for the coexistence of alcohol use disorders and depression, which has been validated by numerous studies.

Source: NIH


Does Depression Drive You To Drink?

Nearly one-third of persons who suffer from serious depression also struggle with alcoholism. Depression frequently strikes first. According to research, adolescents who experience depression are more likely to struggle with alcohol use in the years that follow. Additionally, youths who have experienced a significant depressive episode are twice as likely to start drinking than their peers who have not.

Women who have a history of despair are more than twice as likely to start drinking heavily. According to experts, women are more likely than males to go overboard when they’re feeling low.

Depression will only get worse if you drink. People who are depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes, and are more likely to consider suicide. Antidepressants may also work less effectively if you drink excessively.

Does Drinking Too Much Make You Depressed?

Alcohol is an anesthetic. This implies that drinking in any amount can increase your risk of developing the blues. Heavy drinking can damage your brain and cause depression.

You’re more inclined to act impulsively or make poor decisions when you’ve had too much to drink. You might as a result deplete your bank account, lose your job, or break up with someone. When that occurs, you’re more likely to experience depression, especially if your genes predispose you to it.

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 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime.

Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been adequately 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. Research has 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 including:

  • 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
People who are depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes, and are more likely to consider suicide.
People who are depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes, and are more likely to consider suicide.

10 Most Common Alcohol And Depression FAQs

  1. What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alcoholism And Depression?

    The signs of depression and alcoholism are feeling pessimistic or hopeless, frustrated, irritable, restlessness, feeling inappropriate 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, 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, and continuing to drink despite negative consequences, both to physical health and personal relationships.

  2. Is It Dangerous To Mix Alcohol And Depression Meds?

    Anti depressants and alcohol. Drinking can negate the therapeutic effects of your antidepressant, making the management of your symptoms more challenging. Alcohol may appear to lift your spirits momentarily, but ultimately, it worsens the signs of anxiety and depression. If you also take another drug, the side effects can get worse.

  3. Alcohol And Depression Brain Side Effects

    You may experience relaxation, reduced anxiety, and more confidence after consuming alcohol because it has an impact on the area of your brain that regulates inhibition. However, these results disappear shortly. Regardless of how you are feeling, the chemical changes in your brain can quickly cause more unpleasant emotions, including anger, melancholy, or anxiety.

  4. What Are Effective Alcohol And Depression Rehab Options?

    Rehab centers for alcohol and depression. 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!

  5. What Is The Connection Between Alcohol Withdrawal And Depression?

    Depression and alcohol withdrawal. Long-term alcohol consumption can have painful but entirely typical side effects, including feelings of despair after quitting drinking. Depression in adults with alcohol use disorders may be a symptom of underlying mental disease or may appear after cessation of alcohol consumption.

  6. Is Acupuncture For Alcoholism And Depression Effective?

    A common complementary and alternative medicine called acupuncture is showing promise as an AUD treatment.

  7. Is Alcohol And Depression In Men More Common Than In Women?

    Alcohol is a contributing factor in male suicide, which is consistent with the evidence that it can make males depressed.

  8. What Is The Relationship Between Alcoholism And Depression In Older Adults?

    Older men who drink heavily or binge may turn to alcohol to combat depressive feelings, and heavy drinking may also exacerbate social isolation and depressive symptoms in these guys. Alcohol screening and treatment should go hand-in-hand with depression screening and treatment for older men, and vice versa.

  9. How Does Alcohol Cause Depression And Anxiety?

    Alcohol is an anesthetic. It can temporarily help you feel less restrained since it slows down operations in your brain and central nervous system. You might experience a brief increase in relaxation, but these benefits disappear quickly. In fact, drinking alcohol while you’re anxious can make matters worse.

  10. How To Help Someone With Depression And Alcoholism?

    Alcoholism and depression are both severe diseases that need to be treated in a therapeutic setting. Of course, persuading your loved one to consent to therapy can be a very difficult challenge. Confronting a family member about your concerns can be challenging if they have been downplaying or denying their drinking. However, the first step in assisting them is to speak with them.

    Family interventions can be effective in certain circumstances, but they are typically used as a last resort following unsuccessful one-on-one communication attempts. It’s critical to refrain from placing blame or placing them in a humiliating position while talking to your loved one about their mental health and excessive drinking. They should have the impression that your concerns are genuine and that you are sincerely trying to help them.

    It could be helpful to recognize that alcoholism is a mental disorder and let them know that you don’t like seeing them suffer in order to prevent making them feel guilty. Let them express their own anxieties or fears in response to your worries. A lot of passion, impatience, or raising your voice can make them defensive, so try to control yourself.

    It can be helpful to speak with an interventionist or addiction professional if you’re unsure of how to handle the circumstance. We advise meeting with someone with knowledge of interventions for co-occurring mental diseases and alcoholism, such as the addiction specialists at Northbound Treatment. They can help you navigate a conflict by advising you on how to get ready and what to expect.

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Are Genes Or Lifestyle To Blame?

It’s not always apparent whether drinking causes depression or the other way around. Twin studies have indicated that the same factors that increase the likelihood of heavy drinking in families also increase the likelihood of depression.

At least one shared gene has been discovered by scientists. It affects mental processes like memory and attention. People with variations in this gene may be more susceptible to depression and alcohol abuse.

Additionally, the home and social environment matter. It seems that children who experienced maltreatment or were reared in poverty have a higher chance of developing both illnesses.

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.

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Signs & Symptoms Of Depression

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 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime.

Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been adequately 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|

People who are depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes, and are more likely to consider suicide.
People who are depressed and binge drink more frequently, experience more severe depressive episodes, and are more likely to consider suicide.

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows the body down. Research has 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.

  • 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

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Effects Of Alcohol And Depression

  • Substance like alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry, increasing the risk of depression.
  • Alcohol has the same depressant effect in younger individuals as 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 gets older, the body’s water 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, sometimes associated with COVID-19.
alcohol and depression
Contact We Level Up NJ now to learn more about alcohol and depression treatment options.ng COVID-19
  • Individuals drinking more alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic have 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, 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.

Alcohol And Depression: What To Do

As long as you don’t have a medical condition that precludes you from drinking, it probably won’t harm you to occasionally have a glass of wine or beer for social purposes. However, you have a more serious issue if you depend on alcohol to get you through the day or if it interferes with your relationships, career, social life, thoughts, or feelings.

You shouldn’t disregard the major issues of alcohol abuse or despair. Speak to your doctor or psychologist if you believe you have a problem with either. There are several options available for medications that treat depression, and there are also medications that reduce alcohol cravings and reduce the urge to consume large amounts of alcohol. Most likely, your doctor will combine the two treatments. Additionally, you can obtain assistance through AA or a local alcohol rehab facility.

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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 abstains 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 stopping 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 determine 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 signs of the other. This is a standard 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!

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