Author: James Anderson

Alcohol and the Etiology of Depression American Journal of Psychiatry

alcohol and depression

You might begin drinking more regularly in order to feel better or forget about those unwanted emotions and memories. Bad sleep can easily affect your mood the next day, since exhaustion and lingering physical symptoms can make it tough to concentrate. When you drink too much, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or act on impulse. As a result, you could drain your bank account, lose a job, or ruin a relationship.

Alcohol can produce feelings of euphoria and excitement, making you feel instantly happier and more confident, but those feelings are fleeting. Much like barbiturates (sedatives), alcohol is a drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain’s functionality. If you’re concerned alcohol has become your go-to method of managing negative feelings like depression, there’s no shame in reaching out for support. It can get worse over time, especially when combined with regular or heavy alcohol use.

Adults who met criteria for alcohol use disorders also had a higher risk for depression. Some researchers have suggested that the effects of psychotherapy may account for some of the pill placebo response observed in medication studies. If you or a loved one is struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder and alcohol addiction, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment can lead to positive health outcomes. Once you’ve decided to seek care, you’ll need to go about finding it.

alcohol and depression

Individuals with alcohol use disorder often develop a physical dependency on alcohol. The use of medication to treat an alcohol use disorder and a major depressive disorder depends entirely on the individual and their circumstances. A dual diagnosis can be complicated to treat, no matter the circumstances. The most common treatment options are included below, but know that recovery requires a personalized treatment plan that best suits your mental health needs.

Alcohol and the Etiology of Depression

When other factors beyond alcohol play into your mood, however, feelings of depression might persist even after your hangover improves. There are many support systems in place to help you begin your journey. And research continues to produce better medications and therapies to help you detox more comfortably and effectively treat depression symptoms. Experiencing both depression and AUD can be a difficult road, but recovery is possible. Many people have been where you are and have successfully treated their depression and alcohol use disorder. Some people with underlying depression may start using alcohol to find relief from their symptoms.

Despite the availability of several evidence-based medications and behavioral therapy approaches for treating co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders, improvements in treatment for this population are clearly needed. Consideration of disorder heterogeneity and key subgroup differences may help develop more targeted and personalized treatments to improve outcomes for this population. Clinically, the data may be viewed as providing some reassurance that low-level, below-guideline drinking is safe for most individuals, at least regarding risk of depression, as long as it stays low. For clinicians, the priority remains to screen patients for escalation from low-level to problem-level drinking. Screening for above-guideline drinking has demonstrated efficacy in primary care settings and is a recommended practice (15, 16). More knowledge about optimal treatments for co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders is needed.

  1. During therapy, you can learn coping mechanisms that can help you return to life without drinking.
  2. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), if depression symptoms persist after one month without consuming alcohol, then a different depressive disorder diagnosis would apply.
  3. Others might begin feeling depressed or anxious after just one drink.
  4. When you have healthy habits in place to cope with unwanted feelings, you’ll probably find it easier to use these strategies to push back against distressing emotions you might experience while drinking.
  5. Then, try distracting yourself to help take your mind off how you feel.

You can, however, take steps to lower your chances of emotional side effects when drinking. Alcohol can affect the areas of your brain that help regulate emotions. You might start drinking in order to forget what’s on your mind, but once the initial boost begins to wear off, you might end up wallowing in those feelings instead.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depending on the severity of the disorders, you may need more intense treatment, such as outpatient care, integrated assertive community (ACT) treatment or a residential stay, which may be required to begin or continue your recovery journey. Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.

2019 research suggests that depressive disorders are more common in people with alcohol dependence than in those who engage in alcohol misuse, like binge drinking. However, both alcohol dependence and alcohol misuse fall under the AUD umbrella. Alcohol may be a socially acceptable drug, but it’s still a drug. Alcohol abuse and dependence are both considered an alcohol use disorder, with studies finding that alcohol dependence is more closely tied to the persistence of depressive disorders. Many studies have found that alcohol dependence is closely linked to depression. When it comes to diagnosing an alcohol use disorder and a major depressive disorder, it’s important to address them simultaneously, as they can significantly impact your recovery.

Treatment of Co-Occurring AUD and Depressive Disorders

Almost 30 percent of Americans will experience alcohol use disorder at some point in their lifetimes. Depending on your intoxication level, you may experience decreased inhibition, loss of judgment, confusion, and mood swings, among others. “In our society alcohol is readily available and socially acceptable,” says Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, author of Whole Brain Living, explains. “Depression and alcohol misuse are often tied because we take a depressant to counter a chemical depression which only makes it worse.”

Stick to moderate drinking

In one 2018 study, 60 people who recently detoxed from alcohol experienced fewer depressive symptoms after participating in Sudarshan Kriya Yoga for just 2 weeks. Recovering from depression and AUD is difficult because the disorders can worsen one another. Often, people turn to alcohol to help relieve their depression symptoms. Still, many people who receive a diagnosis of substance-induced depression are later re-diagnosed as having depression because symptoms continue after they stop drinking.

That’s why your doctor or psychologist will work with you to create a treatment approach that addresses both issues. Alcohol can significantly impact the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, making depression worse. Antidepressants can help even levels of these chemicals and can help relieve symptoms of depression. Your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam and a psychological evaluation.

There is a lot that we still need to understand about the link between alcohol and depression, and this is an emerging area of research. Existing research indicates that depression can cause alcohol overuse, and alcohol overuse can cause depression. On the other hand, both conditions also share certain risk factors, such as genetics and social isolation. Having either depression or alcohol use disorder increases your risk of developing the other condition.

They may be able to help determine one’s medical needs and perhaps refer them to a suitable rehab center. Additionally, one may consider visiting the SAMHSA treatment locator to search for programs by zip code. It can be tempting to drink if you’re feeling unhappy, but there’s a better solution out there. When treating depression and substance abuse, consult with a mental health professional and/or an addiction specialist who can provide resources and recommendations for possible treatment options. Drinking persistently and excessively can increase your risk of developing a major depressive disorder.

People who frequently drink are more likely to experience episodes of depression, and they may drink more in an attempt to feel better. The good news is that treating both alcohol misuse and depression can make both conditions better. It’s very important to address both alcohol misuse and depression simultaneously when looking into treatment options, as these conditions are closely intertwined and can exacerbate each other, Kennedy explains.