In the shorter term, the impact of alcohol on a person can sometimes be positive regarding our mood, but in the long term, it can potentially result in problems to our mental health. Consuming alcohol is associated with various mental health conditions, including memory loss, depression, and even suicide.
Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol disrupts the chemicals in one’s brain that are important for our mental health. So we might feel good after a few drinks, but eventually, alcohol will have an evident effect on mental health that will ultimately contribute to depression, anxiety, and stress.
Alcohol And Brain Chemistry
The brain is dependent on the balance between chemicals and their different processes. Alcohol is technically a depressant, and this means that it can interfere with that balance. It could affect our actions, feelings, thoughts, and often our mental health. This is due partly to the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are substances that help convey signals from one neuron to another. For instance, the calm feeling that we experience when we drink is because of the chemical alternations that alcohol has caused in our brain. A few glasses of alcohol can make a person feel cooler and more self-confident, as the alcohol starts to overwhelm the portion of the brain linked with inhibition.
However, as we consume more and more alcohol, the effect it has on the brain increases, and whether or not we are in a bad or good mood, with the heightened alcohol consumption, the negative thoughts and emotions may soon take over, ultimately causing a negative effect on our mental health. Alcohol is also associated with violence, and people have often reported becoming aggressive, depressed, angry, or anxious when they’ve had too much to drink.
Alcohol And Depression
Regular heavy drinking has been linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression, although it is quite hard to distinguish cause and effect. This implies that it is unknown whether consuming alcohol can truly cause an individual to have depressive symptoms. What is documented is that alcohol consumption affects various nerve-chemical synapses within the body that are crucial in mood regulation. Studies have shown that depression may follow heavy alcohol drinking and that decreasing or stopping it can immediately improve one’s mood.
Prescriptions given for depression must not be combined with alcohol. Some known antidepressants tend to heighten the risk of reversion to heavy drinking in individuals struggling to abstain from alcohol. Thus, antidepressants must only be taken when they are recommended and officially prescribed by their doctor.
Alcohol And Fear
For individuals who experience fear and anxiety, drinking might initially help them feel more relaxed. However, this feeling is short. The ‘relaxed’ feeling that someone might experience after drinking is because of the chemical alterations that alcohol does in the brain. These effects soon wear off, and depending on alcohol to conceal anxiety or fear can also result in a greater dependence on it to achieve relaxation.
Anxiety can occur when a person has a hangover too. As he processes alcohol, he begins to experience psychological indicators like feeling irritated or depressed. For others, they don’t experience almost anything. But if being anxious is already a problem, the hangover can worsen the symptoms.
Consuming alcohol can also increase the feelings of anxiety in specific situations. When you drink, you don’t often react to all the hints around you. If you’re vulnerable to being anxious and feel something that might be construed as dangerous, there is an inclination to concentrate on that something and missing out on the things that are less dangerous or neutral. To eliminate or decrease anxiety without alcohol, practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga, breathing, or meditation. Talking to someone you trust about how you feel is also a wise thing to do.
Alcohol, Self-Harm, And Suicide
Alcohol causes people to forget about their reservations and behave rather spontaneously, which sometimes leads them to do things they would not have done if they were sober. This includes self-harm and, worse, suicide. There is a strong connection between heavy drinking and suicide attempts and death secondary to suicide.
Severe drinking of alcohol – as in consuming over 30 units daily for weeks – can often lead to psychosis, a severe mental health condition that involves delusions and hallucinations. Psychosis can be due to severe intoxication and withdrawal and is more common in drinkers who are reliant on alcohol and then abruptly stops drinking.
Being In Control
Experts agree that to eliminate the health hazards from alcohol consumption to a lower level, people must not drink alcohol over 14 units in a week. This is equal to 6 pints of beer or six medium glasses of moderately strong wine. If you keep drinking as much as this, it would be safe if you spread consumption over three or four days or even more.
The danger of developing severe physical and mental health issues heightens the more you consume alcohol regularly. A smart way to lessen your drinking is to have some alcohol-free days per week, and of course, not to binge drink.