Maybe you’re having a cold one after a stressful day at work. Perhaps you’re feeling tired after that date and want something to take the edge off an otherwise awful day.
Having just one drink won’t hurt, right?
While for some, these scenarios may justify the need for that single malt of scotch. However, for those suffering from depression, having alcohol only serves as an accelerant for a fire that needs to be stopped.
Why Alcohol is No Help
As someone with depression, you may feel a bit apprehensive when considering your drinking habits.
Alcohol isn’t the bad guy here. It’s just a sedative. It makes you feel relaxed and calm after a few glasses.However, it is this kind of thinking that actually increases your chances of feeling depressed.
According to a publication on Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol abuse was seen as the major cause for the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other antisocial behavior, during intoxication and withdrawal.
And there are several reasons for that.
Alcohol’s Effects on Depression
Alcohol exacerbates depression symptoms by affecting your brain and body chemistry.
- Alcohol reduces the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, two very important chemical nerve cells that regulate your mood.
- Alcohol also temporary cuts off the effects of your stress hormones.
- Alcohol also disrupts your sleep and thought process, which makes you feel woozy and lethargic. And without proper sleep to rest your body, the symptoms only become worse.
- Depression also lowers your levels of folic acid, which contributes to your brain’s aging process, all the while increasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
With all these factors at play, it’s very risky for a person with depression to have something that aggravates their symptoms, when they’re clearly looking to resolve them. Aside from these obvious biological effects, alcohol intake enhances the severity of other health issues as well such as:
- Lack of concentration and decision making skills
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent headaches, cramps and digestive problems
- Insomnia and more
How to Handle Alcoholism with Depression
Drinking alcohol has become a common social past time. And for someone seeking to actively distance themselves from the drink, this presents a problem.
It can be difficult to go through social occasions without having a drink in hand. In addition, with everyone enjoying the merriment of the occasion, you do feel the atmosphere egging you on with thoughts like, “why not have a drink tonight? It’s a day off, and it’s a special occasion. What’s the worst that could happen?”
But this is where you need to stop yourself.
Yes, it can be difficult to further yourself from alcohol at such times. But the truth is, no one is going to likely be looking at whether you’re having a drink or not. It’s not necessary to drink just to present yourself as a socially acceptable individual.
In such cases, it’s crucial that you take the right steps to have support during your times when struggling with alcoholism and depression.
· Surround Yourself with a Solid Support Network
A true loved one or friend will do their best to support you if they know you’re suffering from alcoholism and depression.
Surround yourself with people who you know will be there to help and guide you through. Become a part of groups that are designed to help those with depressive disorders. Having people who know what it’s like to recover from alcoholism will be able to give you better insight on how the struggle can be made easier.
· Avoid Places or People That May Trigger Urges or Cravings
Alongside, avoid those places that may trigger your depression as well.
Often, it’s our reluctance to get out of that comfort trap that pushes us deeper into our symptoms. If your workplace makes you feel depressed enough to have a drink after work, consider changing your place of employment. Or take some days off to re-evaluate the source of your depression. If there’s a social event that you absolutely must attend, bring someone from your support group with you so you can rely on their strength.
There’s always a way to work around the sources that may trigger your depressive and alcoholism symptoms.
· Learn to Say No
In truth, you’re the only person who can take yourself away from alcohol. While your friends and family will do their best to support you and even stop you from following those urges, you have to the one to think, this must stop.
We live in a society that will go on with their social habits and it’s up to you to decide what is good for you and what isn’t. If you go to a therapist, ask them on how you can train your refusal skills. Learn how to say no, and say it when you feel those triggers rising.
You will feel that wave of depression rising, urging you to drink alcohol to soothe its effects. Tell yourself no and be firm.
Get Help from a Doctor
If you’re taking medication for depression or alcoholism, talk to your doctor if you start experiencing any unusual symptoms. Ask them about any side-effects of the medication that may affect your lifestyle and be sure that your doctor is taking the essential blood tests and monitoring your reactions and response.
Professional help is important. By going to the right doctor, you can use the necessary resources to make yourself feel better.
Alcoholism is a very damaging factor for those suffering from depression.
By taking the right steps, and implementing some effective stress-coping strategies, you can reach out of your comfort zone and improve your quality of life for a healthier result.