Alcohol and Depression


Alcohol and depression, two words that I have heard in the same sentence over and over again.  I have interviewed many recovering alcoholics and there seemed to be one common experience.  They all felt that alcohol was a depressant.

It was compared to the ‘chicken and egg’ story. What comes first, the alcohol or the depression? Does an alcoholic start drinking because he or she is suffering from depression or does one suffer from alcohol depression after too much drinking for too long a period?

After many years of living with an alcoholic partner I am very aware of the depressant effects of alcohol abuse and that alcohol in fact affects the chemistry of the brain which, in turn, can lead to depression. Problem drinkers often think their depression is related to their emotional state, but it actually originates in the physical body, in response to drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Depression and Suicide

Nowadays it is considered proven that over-consumption of alcohol can cause depression and that alcohol can activate a gene linked to depression.  Alcohol depression also can lead to suicide in people with alcohol problems. It is difficult to say how much is too much. Some people can drink several units on a daily basis and never experience any problems and most people like to think they are in that group.

The consumption of alcohol in Western countries has certainly become a totally accepted part of life, both socially and in business.  Talk shows on television offer alcoholic drinks to their guests and the use of alcohol in soaps, films and advertisement is completely accepted.  According to scientific studies, drinking more than 8 units a day (6 units for women) is classified as binge drinking.

However, people apparently having a great time at the pavement cafes in my home town in southern Spain don’t seem to think so. Alcohol depression is far from their mind.  Their hangovers in the mornings might make them feel anxious and somewhat guilty but these feelings are soon forgotten when they meet up with their drinking buddies.

But feelings of depression might unknowingly creep up on them and there is a sense that life is depressing.  Arguments with partners and other people seem to become more common, as are memory loss and sexual problems, but they are waved away with a joke. Just have another drink. 

Having seen my best friend and ex-partner completely destroy himself, I increasingly find it painful to observe the total denial of society as far as alcohol abuse facts are concerned and the total condemnation of people who have clearly lost everything they once held dear.

And that, to me, is very depressing.  Talking about alcohol depression…..

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