The National Institute of Mental Health defines symptoms of depression as:
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of interest in some activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt with no clear reason
Depression is a mental illness that causes constant feelings of sadness. People suffering from depression often act listless and lifeless, and lose interest in their favorite pastimes. This, in turn, leads to further emotional problems. Since these individuals often do not know where to turn for solace, they are likely to use alcohol for relief.
Why do people choose alcohol when they are depressed?
Some people think that drinking alcohol will ‘drown their sorrows.’ When someone loses their job, goes through a bad breakup, or experiences something else that makes them feel miserable, they may believe that alcohol will help them to forget. The depressant effects of alcohol slow the functions of the brain and nervous system while taking the person’s mind off their misfortunes. People who are depressed may turn to alcohol to dull the ever-present sadness they feel.
In rare cases, not all people who suffer from depression have trouble recognizing that they have a mental illness, so they seek unapproved remedies (like drinking an alcoholic drink) to make themselves feel better.
These are the underlying facts you should know if you rely mostly on alcohol in treating your depression.
What exactly happens to your brain when taking alcohol?
The brain’s neurotransmitters are greatly affected by alcohol. Each time you take a drink, a chemical called dopamine is released from your brain which gives you the feeling of pleasure. Consuming even a little alcohol will also increase the effects of another neurotransmitter called the inhibitory neurotransmitter. The inhibitory neurotransmitter is what tells your system to slow down.
A few more drinks will further excite your neurotransmitters, causing your reflexes to slow and you to slur your speech. Neurotransmitters also influence your emotions. You will be left with a sluggish and empty feeling once the pleasurable effect of dopamine wears off.
Instead of depending on alcohol to self-medicate, have your condition checked and treated with the help of an alcohol addiction treatment center. Through this, you’ll have the chance to use a service called dual diagnosis treatment where both your mental illness and alcohol addiction can be properly treated.