Alcohol and Your Mental Health

a young woman thinking about alcohol and mental health

In the short-term, using alcohol can improve your sense of relaxation and mood and reduce certain kinds of anxiety, like social anxiety. In the long-term, however, the relationship between alcohol and mental health quickly turns negative, being responsible for a range of issues from depression and memory loss to suicide.

People who seek help with alcohol addiction in recovery centers sometimes get a dual diagnosis, meaning that they get treatment for underlying mental health disorders. Such programs then embark on treatment programs to solve both problems. Contact Kemah Palms today learn how persistent alcohol usage changes your brain and affects your mental wellbeing.

How Alcohol Changes Your Brain Chemistry

The brain is the most complex organ in the body; its proper function depends on a delicate balance of processes and chemicals. Abuse of alcohol and mental health issues often appear together because alcohol is a depressant. It disrupts the neurochemical balance, changing the user’s thoughts, feelings, and choices.

Drinking more increases brain function, reversing the positive feelings you had, and magnifying the negative feelings. As a result, alcohol use can cause a range of emotions and thoughts, including:

  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals through nerves across the body. They enable communication to and from the brain and organs. When you drink alcohol, you experience relaxation because alcohol suppresses your brain, affecting your inhibitions, making you less anxious and more confident.

Alcohol and Anxiety

One or two drinks may ease anxiety for people who experience it, but these feelings are often temporary. Many people with alcohol and mental issues in alcohol addiction treatment programs started using alcohol to mask anxiety.

They easily get addicted because they rely on it to handle difficult social situations. In time, you develop a tolerance, which means you have to take more alcohol to get the same high or sense of relaxation. In the longer term, this path leads to alcohol dependence. Alcohol can also cause feelings of depression, unrest, or anxiety to increase in the hangover phase.

Alcohol and Depression

Regular and heavy drinking is closely related to depression symptoms. Regularly taking alcohol can make it difficult to ascertain where depression symptoms stem from because alcohol affects several pathways that regulate mood in the body.

What’s more, when dealing with alcohol and mental health issues, most antidepressants cannot mix with alcohol. If you need dual diagnosis treatment, you have to pass through alcohol detox programs to get the alcohol dependence out of the system. Afterward, if your depression symptoms require medication, you can now safely take them.

Alcohol and Emotional/Mood Disturbances

Taking alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions, and overindulgence removes such constraints altogether. Alcohol disrupts your body’s rest and repair function because organs must work harder to expel alcohol. As a result, a person may feel tired or sluggish even after sleeping, and the low energy levels make them easily irritable, snappy, or aggressive. As a CNS depressant, alcohol can cause mood disturbances and augment underlying fears or reveal repressed feelings and memories. These memories may re-traumatize the person and bring back feelings of anxiety, shame, self-hate, or guilt. Reliving past traumas can pose a threat to self and others because one is not in full control. Alcohol also depresses serotonin release creating a vicious cycle where one feels sad (because of low serotonin levels) and then turns to alcohol to repress the feelings of sadness.

Seek Treatment for Alcohol and Mental Health at Kemah Palms

Have you or your loved one been struggling to find the light because of alcohol and mental health issues? There is ready help at Kemah Palms Recovery®. We have a wide range of programs, including dual treatments, to help you overcome substance abuse and mental health issues. You don’t need to hide or suffer alone. Reach out to Kemah Palms today, and let us help you make your way back to great health.