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Alcoholism and Depression

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Alcoholism and Depression

Alcoholism and Depression: Could You Be Ignoring the Signs of Depression? 

Many people have a drink on rare occasions to celebrate or just to relax but some people start requiring an alcoholic drink every time they have a problematic day. When drinking becomes a requirement for a person to relax and distress then alcohol abuse is likely. There is a link between alcoholism and depression, and people can start to drink due to a depression and a depression can form due to alcohol abuse. In fact, between 30 to 50 percent of individuals with an alcohol dependence also suffer from clinical depression. Alcohol induced depression is more common than many choose to believe. It is in fact the nature of alcohol, to cause depression as the substance is categorized as a depressant, which causes temporary happiness due to the way it suppresses emotion, however this occurs due to the slowing of breathing (depressing) and the changes in brain chemistry.

How does Alcohol Abuse Lead to Depression?

With continued abuse of alcohol, alcoholism can form that can cause depression. Alcohol is a depressant that means that as you drink more you will increase your chances of becoming depressed. In alcoholism cases, a person drinks on an often-daily basis causing the effects of the alcohol on the body to increase. Furthermore, alcohol abuse and addiction can make a person behave irresponsibly resulting in bad decisions. Alcoholics often find themselves bankrupt, without a job and in failing relationships. These distressing situations can cause a person to become depressed.

How does Depression Lead to Alcoholism?

Some people may be driven to drink due to depression in an effort to self-medicate their mental disorder. As this trend continues, there is a high risk of alcoholism forming due to the continued use of the depressant alcohol. As many as one-third of depression cases are accompanied by alcoholism according to SAMSHA. In many of these cases, depression is the first disorder that causes the individual to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. Adolescents who suffer from depression are also more likely to become alcoholics later in their life. Adolescents who have had a severe depression are twice as likely to become alcoholics. The self-medicating aspect of alcoholism and depression can eventually create an even worse depression. Excessive drinkers often have more frequent depression episodes than they had before they started drinking.

Alcoholism and Depression in Women

Women are more likely to suffer from depression; women have twice the chance of developing a severe depression than men. This is due to various factors including menopause, menstruation, miscarriage and pregnancy among other factors. Stress at work or at home can affect women more than men due to biological factors further increasing their risk of a deep depression. Alcohol is sometimes seen as an easier alternative than finding professional help for their mental disorder and as a result, alcoholism and depression in women is more prevalent.

Alcoholism and Depression in Men

A National Comorbidity Study showed that men who suffered from alcoholism are three times more likely to have severe depression than an average person is. Self-medication among veterans and other people who suffer from bouts of depression is a major factor for most alcohol addictions forming. Although there is generally a lower risk of forming an addiction due to a depression or a depression leading to an addiction to alcohol in men than women, men who abuse alcohol are very likely to develop depression and those who have a depression have a high risk of turning to alcohol to ease their suffering.

Is there a Link between Alcoholism and Suicide?  

Alcohol abuse can exaggerate negative emotions, feelings of sadness, and increase impulsiveness. Alcohol is also known to impair judgment especially when binge drinking, and there for could cause someone to act without thinking. Generally, if someone is suffering from both alcoholism and depression, it is very possible they may experience suicidal thoughts. Even addicts, who don’t suffer from clinical depression explain intense feelings of sadness, shame, and sometimes wish they could die to escape their addiction. The risks of suicide in patients with co-existing disorders such as alcoholism and depression are much higher than with individuals who do not.

Treatment of a Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis is the term used for people who suffer from addiction and another mental disorder at the same time. Regardless if the mental disorder led to the addiction or the addiction surfaced a mental disorder, a dual diagnosis approach can rectify the situation. In order for treatment to be successful over the long term, both the mental disorder and alcoholism must be treated congruently. Leaving the mental disorder untreated increases the risk of relapse as the person battles to cope and turns to alcohol as a source of short-term relief. Likewise, if only the mental disorder was treated then the person’s abuse of alcohol can trigger the depression to return. Men and women of all ages can have severe problems with depression and when alcoholism is combined, the situation can quickly become too much to handle alone. Rehab centers can assist individuals with all of the professional help that is needed in these situations to assist in a long-term recovery.

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