Initially, alcohol makes you feel happy and even jubilant. It drops your inhibitions. Then, something changes. Does alcohol make you depressed?
If you’ve been abusing alcohol, you need help. Ending the temptation to reach for a drink is tough. Professional assistance can give you the tools you need to stick with your resolve to quit. Similarly, it provides you with relapse prevention training.
What is Alcohol?
Ethyl alcohol is the active ingredient in all types of fermented drinks, such as beer and wine. They contain anywhere from 2% alcohol to 20% alcohol. Distilled drinks, or liquor, have 40% to 50% or more alcohol. The percentage of alcohol is different from state to state.
The average alcohol content for each is:
- Beer 2–6% alcohol
- Cider 4–8% alcohol
- Wine 8–20% alcohol
- Tequila 40% alcohol
- Rum 40% or more alcohol
- Brandy 40% or more alcohol
- Gin 40–47% alcohol
- Whiskey 40–50% alcohol
- Vodka 40–50% alcohol
- Liqueurs 15–60% alcohol
How Alcohol Works in The Brain
From the first sip, alcohol starts to affect the brain. It does so by disrupting the communication pathways in the brain. Alcohol activates the release of dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel good, and it is this reason that alcohol is so addictive.
Alcohol affects individuals differently based on the following factors:
- How much you drink
- How often you drink
- Your age
- Your health status
- Your family history
First Effects of Alcohol
You first see it as a change in the decision-making process; people might call this losing their inhibitions. Drinking alcohol can make it difficult for you to make smart decisions. Someone who is drinking is more likely to make decisions that can be dangerous or end them up in jail.
Second Effects of Alcohol
The next effect of alcohol, a person will start to feel the physical effects of alcohol. People will start to slur their words and forget what they were saying. Most people will start to get loud and rowdy. Coordination is affected and will cause someone to stumble around and possibly fall.
Third Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol can cause depression by causing a person to dwell on sad memories. Alcohol is a depressant so if a person does not stay in a good mood and in a good environment they can get emotional and depressed. Alcohol can also cause depression after the realization that a bad decision had been made while consuming alcohol.
Most people can shrug off these consequences the next day after a hangover. This might not be the case when you deal with a substance-induced mood disorder.
What is Clinical Depression?
Clinical Depression is a common but very serious mental illness. Depression affects every aspect of a person’s life, from work to home to their social life. Depression affects roughly 1 in 15 people in America though only a small percentage seek help. Women are at a higher risk of suffering from depression, with about one-third suffering from at least one serious episode of depression.
Someone who is depressed is more likely to “binge” drink. Binge drinking is defined as drinking a lot in a short amount of time. Binge drinking is when a man drinks 5 or more drinks and women drink 4 or more in a 2 hour period.
Signs of Depression
- No interest in the fun things in life
- Sleeping all the time
- Missing work
- Not attending family functions
- Weight loss or gain
- Lack of focus
- Deep sadness
- Lack of energy
- Unexplained body pains
Alcohol and Depression
More people start drinking to “escape” their feelings that are causing the depression, then people who suffer depression because of their drinking. People who are depressed like the sedative effects of alcohol and how quickly they can feel the “escape”. Even though at the moment the person feels better and “happy” the after-effects of drinking makes depression worse. So to escape the depression, a person will drink more often. Now their drinking is causing financial and relationship problems and that makes depression even worse. The drinking and depression become a downward spiral that seems impossible to escape.
Overall Does Alcohol Make You Depressed?
People with an underlying depressive mental health disorder might see a worsening of their symptoms. Its severity depends on the disorder. If someone doesn’t know that it’s there, the depressive mood that alcohol can lead to might be surprising. You thought alcohol would boost your mood; instead, it made things feel worse.
Even if you don’t struggle with depression, it’s possible for alcohol to make you feel depressed. If you started drinking to forget the stress of a job loss or relationship breakup, you’ll feel worse. Because you didn’t process the emotions correctly, the disruption of the neurotransmitters might wreak havoc. You may have a sudden outburst of sadness that remains in place even after the alcohol wears off.
Alcohol and Depression: Dual Diagnosis
For someone who suffers from alcohol addiction and depression, it is important to treat both diseases. If only one disease id addressed then recovery is impossible. Alcohol is the “outward” disease while depression is the “inward” disease. If the depression is addressed and treated the alcohol treatment will be easier to conquer.
Alcohol and Depression: Treatment Options
There are so many treatment options available, it may be hard to decide which ones are best for the specific help that is needed. From outpatient therapy to intensive inpatient treatment, what works best for a person’s life and what treatment is going to have the best possible results are the most important factors to consider. But for most people, an inpatient treatment program is the best way to reach successful sobriety and good mental health.
Alcohol and Depression: Withdrawal and Detox
The withdrawal and detox phase of sobriety is the first step in treatment. It is also the one thing that keeps people from getting sober. During this phase, the alcohol is flushed completely out of a person’s body. Everyone detoxes and experiences withdrawal systems differently but the normal progression is as follows.
- 6 Hours– minor withdrawal symptoms, shakes, headaches, nausea, insomnia, sweats, A heavy alcoholic may have seizures after 6 hours of detox.
- 12 to 24 Hours– hallucinations- hearing seeing and feeling things that are not there, and a high chance of seizures
- 24 to 48 Hours– minor symptoms still continue such as headaches, nausea, and shakes
- 48 to 72 Hours– Some people have severe symptoms called DT’s or Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium. It causes seizures, fevers, and high heart rates.
- 72 Hours– This is when the symptoms are the worst. This is the time period when some people will give up and go back to drinking.
Alcohol and Depression: Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment programs cover every basis of treatment. Inpatient treatment centers offer the greatest success rate because of the consistent supervision and the safe environment it offers. A patient has an abundance of support from counselors to other patients who have been in the same situation. Each center has its own unique options but they all have common programs.
Inpatient programs focus on building a support system and group therapy sessions. Patients lean on counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other patients for support. A great support system is vital to successful sobriety. Family involvement is very important in resolving all the issues that led to the depression which led to alcohol addiction.
Inpatient Program: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a type of talk therapy. It is a very successful program for patients with a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and depression. It focuses on how the person thinks and how those thoughts affect their actions. The patient will focus on changing their thoughts to positive healthy thinking and will learn healthy ways to react to their thoughts and to situations.
Alcohol and Depression: Outpatient Treatment Program
For some people, life does not give them the option of going away to an inpatient program. And for some who have just started down the road to drinking, outpatient programs are very beneficial. Some people have a strong connection and support group with their families. For those people, outpatient treatment is great because they have supervision at home.
Outpatient programs require a lot of hard work and self-dedication to sobriety. Besides handling normal life while not reaching for a drink, a person is also required to spend a few hours a day at the center. While at the treatment center a person will be involved in a group and individual therapy. And will be taught the skills needed to stay sober and keep the depression at bay.
Alcohol and Depression: Lifetime of Sobriety
Dedication to mental health and sobriety is a lifetime commitment. There will be days when you feel great and do not think about drinking, but there will be days when your mental health is in the garbage and all you can think about is having a drink. So it is very important to continue in some sort of support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. And it is important to continue in therapy to make sure you do not fall into depression again.
No matter what treatment program a person chooses, It will only be successful if a person is determined to be mentally healthy and sober. It is not easy but it is possible. Have faith in yourself and take the leap. Find happiness in life again.
Does alcohol make you depressed? Learn more about depression and alcohol abuse. Find out how you can quit. Crest View Recovery Center specialists want to help; click here to reach us today.