alcoholism and depression

Alcohol Abuse and Depression: Understanding the Connection

In general, we are constantly exposed to the idea of fixing a tough week with a “happy hour” hang out on the weekends, whether it is with co-workers or friends. Binge drinking has been idealized as a way to make you feel better after feeling too stressed out or upset, so it’s no wonder that most people now do that on a weekly basis. Even though drinking a little too much every once in a while could be harmless, it is the link between emotions and drinking according to them that can be a problem if someone is dealing with a mental illness.

It is basically impossible not to come in contact with alcohol nowadays, as most social events involve drinking. So people that suffer from depression will certainly drink eventually, and if they don’t know they suffer from it in the first place, that can put them at risk of alcohol abuse. Yes, addiction doesn’t happen automatically with one drink, but since symptoms of depression don’t go away on their own either, chances are that one drink will be the first of many before a downward spiral.

Alcohol abuse and depression are also connected in the sense that they can feed off each other. Alcohol is a depressant, so as the drinking happens more often and in higher doses, the initial feeling of inhibition and relaxation will wear out and be replaced by sadness, anger, or anxiety. That, added to the other symptoms of depression, can lead to alcohol abuse and the user might not even realize that a disorder is the root of the problem.

How Do I Identify Depression?

Feeling a surge of sadness or feeling down can happen to anyone, and it is a natural reaction to anything sad in life. Having that feeling alone is a way to process bad news, big changes, losing someone, and should not be something to avoid or suppress. But depression is more than that, and one of its signs is if these feelings last for more than two weeks or even months.

If these feelings are somehow so bad that they affect your daily life drastically, that should be a cause for concern. In this scenario, alcohol abuse and depression can be more likely to happen, and will only make things worse. Contrary to popular belief, however, depression isn’t just staying in bed and/or crying or feeling only deep sadness. Some signs to look out for are also:

  • Losing interest in things that brought pleasure (i.e.: hobbies, physical activities, sex)
  • Having a harder time making decisions, big and/or simple
  • Feelings of restlessness or agitation
  • Changes in weight, either losing or gaining too much of it
  • Loss of self-confidence, purpose, and hope
  • Physical aches or pains with no apparent reason and that won’t go away even with treatment
  • Numbness or emptiness (as opposed to feeling too much)
  • Being easily and constantly irritable
  • Not being able to focus or concentrate even in mundane activities
  • Having very low energy and fatigue even without doing much

While not everyone will experience depression the same way or many of its symptoms, being diagnosed is the only way to know for sure if someone might be suffering from depression. Since there are different levels and disorders related to symptoms of depression, getting help will not just identify the problem, but will help a psychiatrist or another health care provider know what treatment should be applied.

Something else that should be taken into consideration is family history with either alcohol abuse or depression or any other mental illnesses. Genes also come into play when identifying what someone is going through, as most of these disorders can often be passed down from generation to generation. Disclose any information you might find important to share, even if there was no official diagnosis of family members you believe displayed characteristics of mental illnesses.

How Can I Get Help?

Alcohol abuse and depression are illnesses that can affect one another, but it is more than possible to break that cycle. It is scientifically proven that cutting down on alcohol consumption can help symptoms of depression, so while they are hard to deal with simultaneously, improvements with one condition can bring on improvements with the other. Even in the case of suffering from other disorders combined, a condition called dual-diagnosis, keeping on with a drinking habit can worsen or accelerate the course of the psychiatric disorder, so any suspicions should not be taken lightly. 

Dual-diagnosis can come in many forms, not just in the combination of depression and alcohol abuse, and almost 60% of addicts suffer from a second psychiatric illness. It is not uncommon, and we at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare have experience and resources to aid dual-diagnosis patients with both disorders. From alcohol abuse to opioids, we have options for many different scenarios, no matter what is being dealt with.

If you or a loved one need to get help for one or more disorders, do not hesitate to contact us. Visit our website and get all the information you need to meet with someone that will answer all your questions and explain everything that we can do to help anyone deal, understand, and free themselves from alcohol abuse, depression, and any other mental illness holding them down.