Alcohol can make you feel good short term. It can numb negative emotions, but it also destabilizes brain chemistry. Individuals who drink heavily, or binge drink, are more likely to struggle with alcohol withdrawal effects that include short attention spans, lack of sleep, sadness, and anxiety. But can alcohol cause depression? Can drinking cause depression even if you aren’t an alcoholic?
How Alcohol Affects the Brain
Alcohol is a depressant. That means regular alcohol consumption changes your serotonin system and interferes with the way your brain functions. It results in depressing or lowering your mood.
Drinking regularly will lower your mood and leave you feeling depressed. If you are in a low mood and you feel depressed, you are more likely to drink.
It can be difficult for doctors to determine whether your alcohol consumption led directly to depression or whether you already had depression which led to alcohol consumption. However, it doesn’t really matter which one came first. What matters is understanding that there is a strong relationship between the two, and both can be harmful to your mental and physical health.
- If you are on antidepressants for a pre-existing mental health diagnosis and you consume alcohol, your medication won’t work as well. This means you are more likely to feel depressed even if you are taking your medication.
- Alcohol is one of the primary substances depressed people rely on for self-medication.
- Many people who self-medicate with alcohol feel elated when they drink, and they feel depressed when they’re hungover. Both of these function as risk factors for alcoholism and can encourage a harmful cycle of drinking.
- Individuals who drink and behave impulsively are more likely to struggle with regret the next day, which can result in depression. That depression can lead to additional drinking in order to boost mood to mask the feelings.
Does Alcohol Cause Depression?
Can drinking cause depression? In some cases, yes, it can. The longer an individual consumes alcohol, and the higher the levels of consumption, the more likely they are to develop secondary mental health disorders like depression. Let’s look at two examples:
Example One: Can Alcohol Cause Depression?
In some cases, people might consume alcohol and then get depressed. This type of acute depression is typically linked to consumption, so the individual doesn’t remain depressed necessarily once they get sober, but rather, they exhibit signs and symptoms of depression while intoxicated.
Under these circumstances, an individual might be dealing with underlying depressive disorders, which they try to mask during the day, but when they drink, their inhibitions are lowered, and their self-controlled drops, those symptoms might become more noticeable.
Example Two: How Does Alcohol Cause Depression?
In other cases, people might struggle with alcoholism or alcohol abuse and start to notice symptoms of depression manifesting a few weeks or months after regular consumption. In these cases, there wasn’t necessarily a pre-existing diagnosis of depression as a mental health disorder, but the individual developed it down the line.
But how does alcohol cause depression exactly? Regular alcohol consumption can change the size and function of your brain. With regular alcohol consumption, you can damage the way parts of your brain, like your prefrontal cortex, control your decision-making and risk-taking moderation. You can also risk damage to certain hormone levels, which leaves you susceptible to developing secondary mental health conditions. Changes in hormones are one of the main causes of depression.
Can Alcohol Cause Depression? How to Get Help
If you are struggling with signs of depression and you’re asking, “Does alcohol cause depression” or “How does alcohol cause depression if you are an alcoholic,” it might be time to consider professional help. Centric Group can assist in finding the right treatment center for your needs.
Alcoholism, even at moderate levels, comes with serious risks of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is best for clients to receive medication-assisted treatment, MAT, during detox at a licensed treatment center. This type of detox service offers FDA-approved medication to reduce symptoms during detox and control cravings thereafter.
People experiencing struggles with depression and alcoholism need dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis treatment provides detox services and ongoing therapy for alcoholism and depression concurrently. This ensures clients receive the medication and therapy necessary to manage daily symptoms of depression or help alleviate acute depressive symptoms while also receiving medication-assisted detox for alcoholism and ongoing therapy for trigger identification and craving management.
To learn more about questions like “Can alcohol cause depression” or “Where can I get dual diagnosis treatment,” contact Centric Group today.