There is a definite link between alcohol and depression. Some people are tempted to turn to drink or drink more as they feel that this helps them to relieve their feelings of depression, and others feel depressed as the result of drinking too much alcohol. Some people become trapped in a vicious cycle of drinking to combat their depression, which then causes them to feel worse, so they are tempted to drink even more.
Unfortunately trying to numb the feelings of depression with alcohol will not work, because alcohol actually causes depression. Our brain produces a neurotransmitter known as Serotonin, and it is thought that depression may be caused by a drop in these Serotonin levels. Antidepressant drugs work by increasing the Serotonin levels in the brain.
However, alcohol has the effect of directly reducing Serotonin levels, so will counteract the effects of medication and will actually make the depression worse.
As alcohol can have a sedative effect, it may increase the effects of certain prescribed medication and cause drowsiness, which could place you at a higher risk of accidents if driving and using machinery. Drinking as well as taking medication can also place more of a strain on the major organs, including the liver.
Knowing that you are drinking too much can cause feelings of low self esteem and more depression, and can affect all areas of your life from your work to your family. Problems in these areas will not help any feelings of depression to dissolve.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
Drinking has now become a part of our culture, and it is usual to enjoy a beer with friends or a glass of wine over a meal. However, over the last few decades we are drinking more and more, and are seeing health problems develop as a result. The recommended guidelines for healthy alcohol intake are 1- 2 units a day up to a maximum of 14 units per week for men, and 1 unit a day up to a maximum of 7 units per week for women. Bear in mind though that some drinks are stronger than others, so you may be exceeding these limits without realizing it.
If you are taking antidepressant medication, you should not drink any alcohol at all to avoid interference with the medication. If you are going through a period of depression but not actually taking medication, it would also be wise to abstain to avoid making the depression worse.
Although there is a connection between alcohol and depression, not everybody who is depressed and who drinks will have an alcohol problem. If you find yourself drinking to block out feelings of depression and anxiety, feel depressed after drinking or find yourself increasingly unable to function without a drink, you should seek professional help to enable you to cut down or stop.
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