ALCOHOL ABUSE AND MENTAL DISORDERSMental health problems not only arise from drinking too much alcohol. They can also compel people to drink too much.
There is some evidence connecting light drinking with improved overall health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 units daily have been found to help protect us from heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a little glass of red wine everyday may decrease risk of stroke in women. That being said there is a lot more evidence indicating that drinking too much alcohol results in serious physical and mental diseases. Stated very simply, a major reason for drinking alcohol is to change our mood - or change our mental state. Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression; it can even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health issues. Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental disease. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental illness is sometimes called 'self-medication' by people in the mental health field. This is often why people with mental health conditions drink. It can make existing mental health conditions worse. Evidence indicates that people who consume high amounts of alcohol are vulnerable to higher levels of mental ill health and it can be a contributory factor in some mental illnesses, such as depression.
How does drinking affect our moods and mental health?
When we have alcohol in our blood, our mood changes, and our behaviour then even changes. How these change depends on how much we drink and how quickly we drink it. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can also help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become aggressive or angry when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of anger, unhappiness or anxiety, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?
When the effects have worn off, one of the main issues linked with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that individuals may feel much worse. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression. This can lead some individuals to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.
Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health conditions. If our underlying feelings are of anger, unhappiness or anxiety, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main conditions linked with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people may feel much worse when the effects have worn off. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression.