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Alcohol Use, Abuse, and Depression: Is There a Connection?

In this article we will review:

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. When that happens, you’re more likely to feel depressed, particularly if you have a family history of depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be used to acetaminophen and alcohol treat co-occurring AUD and MDD, by improving your emotional regulation, changing your cognitive behaviors, and helping you develop personal coping strategies. Whether you’re experiencing depression or not, it’s essential to evaluate your drinking habits and consider why you drink, when you drink, and how you feel when you drink.

Drink plenty of water

It wasn’t long before I was many years past college, still doing all-night happy hours several nights a week, followed by weekend benders. From early on, I struggled to live up to my dad, a third-generation farmer with talents for cattle and tractors I lacked. As I got older I learned he stood for a disappearing way of life I worried I didn’t fit, despite his love and support. Opinions expressed in contributed articles do not necessarily reflect the views of NIAAA. The U.S. government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or commodity. Trade or proprietary names appearing in this publication are used only because they are considered essential in the context of the studies reported herein.

Online therapy options

The substantial variability in the course of co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders may reflect discrete underlying mechanisms, requiring distinct treatment approaches. For example, AUD that develops after the onset of a depressive disorder and is characterized by coping motives for alcohol use may differ critically from a depressive disorder that develops following chronic alcohol administration. Data from studies of depression indicate that the substantial variability in the symptoms presented reflects a heterogeneous pathophysiology,32 yet research on heterogeneity in co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders remains limited. Many randomized trials have investigated treatments for co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders.

Why does depression make recovery from AUD harder?

For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Read our review 5 potential dangers of taking suboxone and alcohol together of the best online therapy options to find the right fit for you. CBT can teach you ways to modify your thoughts and behavior to feel better and help you avoid misusing alcohol. In addition, your doctor may prescribe medicines that are meant to lower alcohol cravings, which can reduce your desire to drink.

Alcohol can increase the risk of dangerous symptoms

The researchers found alcohol use and alcohol-related problems substantially decreased in heavy-drinking young adults during the pandemic, and these decreases were still evident as the pandemic began to wane. The results are available in the May 2 issue of the journal Nature Mental Health. When patients have sleep-related concerns such as insomnia, early morning awakening, or fatigue, it is wise to screen them for heavy alcohol use and assess for AUD as needed. If they use alcohol before bedtime, and especially if they shift their sleep timing on weekends compared to weekdays, they may have chronic circadian misalignment. If they report daytime sleepiness, one possible cause is alcohol-induced changes in sleep physiology.

At the same time, people with depression may attempt to self-medicate with alcohol. Individuals with mental health conditions may be more likely to use alcohol as a treatment. Several studies suggest that military veterans are more likely to experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and misuse alcohol. Unlike most prior studies of drinking habits during the pandemic, this study prospectively examined the drinking patterns of 234 heavy-drinking young adults ages 21 to 29 years from before to well after the onset of the pandemic.

Regular drinking can lead to depression, and depressed people are also more likely to drink too much. 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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 9 out of 10 adult binge drinkers don’t have a severe alcohol use disorder, but that doesn’t mean alcohol isn’t a problem for them. Drinking to cope with depression, no matter if you have an alcohol use disorder, is concerning. Alcohol can produce feelings of euphoria and excitement, making you feel instantly happier and more confident, but those feelings are fleeting.

Similarly, an alcoholic who experiences repeated panic attacks or other anxiety symptoms requires intervention for the anxiety, regardless of the cause. Alcoholics who experience high levels of anxiety or nervousness, including panic attacks, will likely benefit from education and reassurance as well as from behavioral therapies aimed at increasing levels of relaxation. Many who struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD), commonly known as alcohol addiction, may also find themselves struggling with co-occurring mental health disorders.

  1. People with AUD and depression often experience the most symptom relief when they receive treatment for both disorders at the same time.
  2. But does regular drinking lead to depression, or are people with depression more likely to drink too much alcohol?
  3. Dealing with physical health problems, debt and housing issues can all affect your mental health.
  4. Drinking too much alcohol is a risk factor for new and worsening depression.

A combination of alcohol use and depression can create difficulties in treatment. A person who uses alcohol and who has depression may not be able to tell alcoholism and anger management which symptoms are due to which issue until they seek treatment. A person should also monitor their reaction to alcohol when using antidepressants.

The specific effects of alcohol on antidepressants depend on the antidepressant a person takes. It is vital to discuss the risks and possible interactions of every medication with a doctor. Chronic alcohol use may change brain chemistry in a way that increases the risk of depression. A 2012 study found that 63.8% of people who are dependent on alcohol are also depressed. The study did not test whether alcohol use causes depression, however. The content published in Cureus is the result of clinical experience and/or research by independent individuals or organizations.

There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. Being around others who are experiencing the same challenges can help you feel connected and reduce feelings of isolation. Taking action to manage negative emotions as you experience them can help keep them from getting too overwhelming. A glass of water and a light snack can help you avoid a bad hangover. Exercise often provides a natural mood boost, so you’ll probably feel better once you get moving.

In this section, trials that used medication and psychotherapy treatments are discussed, as are the effects of those treatments on depressive symptoms and AUD symptoms. During withdrawal from heavy drinking, people may develop delirium tremens, a complication of withdrawal marked by psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations (see Core article on AUD). For healthcare professionals who are not mental health or addiction specialists, the following descriptions aim to increase awareness of signs of co-occurring psychiatric disorders that may require attention and, often, referral to a specialist.

Others face steeper biological alcohol dependence, and decide to quit altogether. But these days I believe whoever it is, we must take a sober look to help them identify their deeper issue, if we want a healthy pastime. It might feel difficult, but they will have heard from many other people going through something similar and will want to help you. They can check your physical health and put you in touch with local support, such as local NHS alcohol addiction support services.

Results showed that these young adults significantly reduced how much and how often they were drinking from before to after the onset of the pandemic. Notably, they decreased their monthly alcohol consumption by nearly 13 drinks, and they also reported significantly fewer alcohol-related problems. Notably, these reductions in alcohol use and alcohol problems were still evident up to two years after the start of the pandemic. A new study examined the drinking levels and patterns of young adults before, during and after the pandemic.

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