Alcohol Abuse and Mental Disorders


Mental health issues not only arise from consuming too much alcohol. They can even compel people to drink too much.

There is some evidence linking light alcohol consumption with improved health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 drinks on a daily basis have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease, and a little glass of red wine daily may diminish risk of stroke in females. There is a lot more evidence demonstrating that drinking excessive alcohol results in serious physical and mental illnesses. Put 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 conditions. Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health problems. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe mental illness. 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 diseases, 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 also changes. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. Alcohol can even reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become angry or aggressive when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of unhappiness, anxiety or anger, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

One of the main problems 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. 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 unhappiness, anger or anxiety, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main problems connected 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.


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