ALCOHOL ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH

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

There is some evidence linking light alcohol consumption with improved overall health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 drinks daily have been found to help defend us from heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may diminish risk of stroke in females. But the truth is there is a lot more evidence demonstrating that drinking too much alcohol brings about severe physical and emotional disorders. Stated 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 also help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health issues. Alcohol conditions are more common among individuals with more severe mental health conditions. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol compels severe mental disorder. drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental illness is sometimes called 'self-medication' by people in the mental health field. This is often why people with mental health problems drink. It can make existing mental health conditions worse. Evidence demonstrates 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 mental diseases, 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 also help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people become aggressive or angry when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of anger, anxiety or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

One of the main problems 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 people 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, anxiety or anger, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main issues 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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