How alcohol affects your mental health

woman holding a glass of red wine

Drinking alcohol can make you feel relaxed when done moderately. However, you should note that your brain depends on a balance of chemicals and processes. And so, if you use alcohol in excess, this balance can be affected. Drinking much can also disrupt the way people feel, think, or act and can even severely influence your mental health in the long run.

Among those who drink alcohol, depressed and anxious individuals might take this substance to reduce their symptoms. However, the opposite can also be true. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause the person to have long-term effects of depression and anxiety along with other physical and mental health problems.

Therefore, knowing more about it is vital as too much drinking can affect you, both in mind and body. This is so you can become more aware of the repercussions that excessive alcohol intake can bring. Having this thought might give you a way to think again regarding drinking.

Likewise, if you or someone you know are having problems concerning alcohol intake, there are addictions treatment and recovery centers like Jackson House Recovery that can help you gain back your control and help you change.

So, if you’re looking to understand the relation between alcohol and mental health more, you can read this article.

1. Depression

Depression consists of constant sadness and lack of desire or pleasure in activities that a person once enjoyed. Its usual triggers are bereavement, unemployment, divorce, and relationship problems. It’s a prevalent condition, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists even said that one out of five people would undergo depression at some point in their lives. Likewise, drinking alcohol can most likely make a person’s depression worse. Frequent and severe episodes of depression and a greater risk of thoughts about suicide can happen when depressed people drink alcohol excessively. Antidepressant medication can also work less when paired with heavy alcohol.

However, drinking alcohol because of depression needs further understanding. According to studies involving twins, things that cause heavy drinking in families can also make depression happen more. People who experience poverty or abuse during childhood are also more likely to have these two conditions.

Likewise, drinking can cause depression in people who don’t have such mental health issues. People may become happier because of the temporary flow of serotonin (a chemical or neurotransmitter that controls mood and happiness) caused by drinking. However, there can be feelings of unhappiness when this chemical fades after a person finishes alcohol intake. Because of this, the person might drink more to experience the same level of serotonin, which can lead to a negative cycle of continuous drinking. Mood dysregulation, which happens due to decreased production of serotonin, is the result of habitual and excessive alcohol intake.

2. Alcohol-induced Psychosis

Alcohol-induced psychosis is an outcome of alcohol withdrawal, acute intoxication, and chronic use. In some cases, one can develop a more or less chronic state of pronounced paranoid delusions or suspiciousness. During episodes of alcohol-induced psychosis, a person might see, hear, or believe things that aren’t truly existent. Likewise, having delusional jealousy syndrome is also the prototype of this psychosis. Delusional jealousy syndrome is nearly seen in male alcoholics who assume that their spouse has an extramarital relationship.

To note, before a diagnosis of alcohol-induced psychosis happens, there are different criteria to remember. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) explains that such diagnosis is considered only if the psychosis is excessive or more than what’s expected during intoxication or withdrawal and not because of a pre-existing mental health condition.

Similarly, you should know the signs of alcohol-induced psychosis besides hallucination and delusion. The common signs include:

  • Agitation
  • Shakiness
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Social withdrawal
  • Drinking alone
  • Memory problems
  • Confused speech

If you think you or someone you know have the signs mentioned above, make sure that you or that person starts to practice alcohol reduction intake so you won’t suffer from alcohol-induced psychosis. You can also talk to professionals and undergo treatment from rehabilitation centers, or take antipsychotic medications.

3. Anxiety

For a person with anxiety, drinking might provide relief. The reason is that a drink from alcohol causes chemical changes in the brain. But it can be temporary. Worse, drinking alcohol might even make an anxious person depend on it more every time a trigger comes up, leading to alcohol use disorder or AUD. Besides that, the hangover effect that too much drinking brings can also make the symptoms of anxiety worse.

Likewise, the relation between anxiety and alcohol is true for those with social anxiety disorders. A socially anxious person might experience fewer inhibitions due to alcohol; however, the harmful effects of drinking can change his perceptions, leading to paranoia and being upset.

Therefore, finding more alternative ways to experience it is good if an anxious person wants to be more relaxed. Below are some of the things that an anxious person can do:

  • Spending time on enjoyable activities
  • Practicing deep breathing
  • Having exercise
  • Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
  • Getting some fresh air

Final Thoughts

The moderate use of alcohol such as beer can allow you to become relaxed. On the other hand, excessive drinking can badly affect your thoughts, actions, and emotions. It can even disrupt your mental health as time goes by. To note, there are millions of people between the ages of 12 and older that have become addicted to alcohol. Men, in particular, are taking more alcohol in this age group than women. These people talk to physicians to address the medical problems brought by such issues.

As many people have become addicted to alcohol, some might drink to ease depression and anxiety. However, drinking too much alcohol can also create the same issues. In addition, drinking can also worsen other psychological concerns. Because of the impact excessive drinking has on mental health, it’s crucial that you become more aware of it. All in all, excessive alcohol intake affects a person mentally by possibly having depression, anxiety, and alcohol-induced psychosis. Knowing the link between the brain and alcohol can help you think twice about alcohol intake and mental health.

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