Depression and Alcohol Abuse, What you need to know
A true “chicken-and-egg” relationship exists between habitual alcohol consumption and the disease of depression. It is rare that alcohol consumption by itself produces chronic symptoms of depression, but it is very common for depression to lead to behaviors that result in addictions like alcohol abuse. The boundaries between depression and any type of substance abuse is difficult to pinpoint. Alcohol however, is unique in the way that it creates a negatively cyclical behavioral pattern in depressed individuals.
Clinical Depression Promotes Bad Decisions
Many people who suffer from depression have no history of substance abuse. Environmental, lifestyle, genetic, and biological factors each contribute to someone’s battle with this terrible condition. When a person is suffering from depression, certain feelings and thoughts supersede normal daily activities and stress. These thoughts and feelings become paramount in an individual’s psyche to the point that no other life elements have any import. A focus on dreadful and dire things completely overtakes the depressed individual.
When mental fatigue happens, depressed individuals often look for physical remedies. The rationale that physical euphoria will balance a psychological imbalance is powerful. It is so powerful, people who would not normally resort to certain behaviors, resort to chemical help. In modern society, alcohol is the most available and convenient means of dealing with psychological problems on a purely physical level.
The Chicken and Egg Conundrum
When a depressed individual first consumes alcohol to deal with difficulties, they immediately feel moments of surprising clarity. As alcohol circulates throughout the bloodstream, and finally hits the brain, it promotes the release of hormones associated with euphoria. This is not unlike any other individual who consumes alcohol, but it has a magnified effect in people with depression. Depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. When alcohol enters the scenario, it magnifies the imbalance.
When depressed people experience an alcohol “high,” they often experience periods of accelerated thinking that is easily confused with true positive change. This change is powerful and poignant because the person has lived for a long period of time in a depressed state. The action of alcohol lifts thoughts, quells the feelings of anxiety, and pairs chemically-induced body relaxation with thoughts that borderline on fantasy. In short, a depressed individual can experience a powerful feeling of non-depression with alcohol consumption, but it it always temporary.
People who are suffering from depression can have medically healthy bodies. This means that when they consume alcohol, it will be digested and assimilated metabolically in a normal way. When this happens, the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression begins to work overtime. An intensified feeling of depression overtakes the individual as the effects of alcohol decreases. This causes the person to feel the need to seek the same type of relief in the future. Unfortunately, this feeling is so powerful that it induces alcohol consumption at a higher volume. Continually chasing this feeling leads to a typical reliance and dependency on alcohol to curb the terrible feelings associated with depression.
When a depressed person uses alcohol to counter the feelings they experience throughout the day, they shift the control of their brain from a natural imbalance of hormones, to a dietary substance. Depression causes the need to seek relief. Alcohol provides temporary relief, but an intensified rebound. An intensified rebound causes the need for greater alcohol consumption. The cycle has the potential to have no end, and it can result in terrible physical health problems for someone who is already suffering from a terrible brain condition.
The cycle of self-medicating depression with something like alcohol is very difficult to interrupt without professional help. Sometimes, this means an intervention. It almost certainly requires cognitive behavioral therapies that address alternatives for physically countering the negative feelings produced by clinical depression.
Professionals who provide resources for people suffering from depression are intimately aware of the attraction to alcohol. The fear, anxiety, and dread that depression produces is unlike any feelings that unaffected people experience. Turning to alcohol for relief is an option, but produces other conditions that are as difficult to treat as depression itself. If the need to consume alcohol for mental and physical relief arises, it is absolutely imperative to seek counsel.
Alcohol abuse arising from the personal need to deal with depression is incredibly problematic when addressing the primary causes of this disease. An addiction to alcohol will severely undermine a person’s efforts to conquer depression permanently. Before resorting to the bottle, seek the help of a counselor who can suggest methods aimed at conquering the pain and fear associated with chronic depression.