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Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Illness
12.04.2016 18:31

Mental health issues not only result from consuming too much alcohol. They can even provoke individuals to drink too much.

There is some evidence connecting light drinking 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 small glass of red wine daily may diminish risk of stroke in females. But the truth is there is a lot more evidence demonstrating that drinking too much alcohol brings on severe bodily and mental disorders. 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 problems. Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health conditions. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental disease. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental disease is sometimes called 'self-medication' by individuals in the mental health field. This is often why individuals with mental health issues drink. But it can make existing mental health issues worse. Evidence shows 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 emotional disorders, 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. How these change depends on how much we drink and how quickly we drink it. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can even help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can even reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. When drinking, this is one of the reasons that many people become angry or aggressive. Anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them if our underlying feelings are of anxiety. What about the after-effects?

One of the main issues associated with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that individuals 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 problems 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 conditions connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that individuals 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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