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How Alcohol Affects Depression

alcohol and depression

There is a well-established relationship between substance abuse and mental health disorders. Frequently, people who seek treatment for one issue will find that they also need treatment for the other. This situation is sometimes called “dual diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders,” and it is much more common than most people realize.

There are many reasons that people who are experiencing depression might also have problems with alcohol, and people who have problems with alcohol might also end up experiencing depression. In fact, many people find that attending a dual diagnosis treatment program can help them recover.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression and drinking, it can be useful and empowering to learn more about the connection between the two. Call us today at 833.991.2955 for more information.

Co-Occurring Disorders: How Alcohol and Depression are Intertwined

How Alcohol and Depression Operate in the Body

It isn’t clear if alcohol abuse causes depression or depression causes alcohol abuse. In fact, the answer to that might be different for every person. However, we know how alcohol impacts brain chemistry and how it affects depression and mood. 

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that send messages from one nerve cell to another. Like serotonin and dopamine, some of these neurotransmitters are related to mood and feelings. It is believed that when the systems in the brain that are in charge of these neurotransmitters malfunction, mood problems like depression can occur.

Alcohol, when consumed heavily or over a long period of time, can also make changes to these neurotransmitters and their control systems. This means that alcohol abuse and depression can feed into each other based on brain chemistry that is malfunctioning.

How Alcohol and Depression Operate in Mental Health and Behavior

Just like in the body, alcohol and depression can feed into each other. Here are some ways that they can work against each other in mental health and behavior:

  • Both can lead to stress. Stress increases depression, and it can also cause an increase in drinking.
  • Alcohol abuse can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, causing feelings of depression to follow.
  • Some people might feel that drinking alcohol relieves symptoms of depression. Over time, they drink more and more but with less effect. 
  • Depression can cause feelings of apathy and disconnection, which may lead to excess drinking and a disregard for one’s health and wellbeing. 

What Is a Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program and How Can it Help?

A dual diagnosis treatment program is a type of program that addresses both substance abuse and mental health disorders. People who are experiencing issues in both of these areas need to have both conditions treated, otherwise they may have difficulty making progress in their recovery from either condition.

Mental health disorders and addiction are diseases, just like physical diseases like diabetes or asthma. Therefore, they need to be carefully treated by professionals in order to begin healing from them. Mental health disorders and addiction are also chronic diseases. That means that instead of being “cured,” they need to be managed over time. Attending a dual diagnosis treatment program can help clients heal and progress to the point where they can participate fully in their own health care plan.

Recovery Bay Can Help People With Co-Occurring Disorders Heal

Our treatment center in Panama City, Florida serves men ages 18 and up who are struggling with substance abuse, alcoholism, and mental health issues. We have a commitment to helping our clients achieve a lasting recovery and regain their freedom from addiction.

If you or someone you love has been battling alcohol abuse and depression, reach out to our caring staff today at 833.991.2955 and learn how we can help you get back on the right track.