Some people drink alcohol while socializing. Others, however, drink alcohol to deal with emotions of anxiety and depression. They might intend for this self-medication to cheer them up or to help them sleep. Alcohol might be able to help you briefly relax in a state of euphoria. Unfortunately, this feeling is short-lived, and using alcohol to deal with difficult emotions only does more harm than good. Excessive drinking aggravates anxiety and depression symptoms, leaving you in a worse situation than you were before. Therefore, to take care of your mental health, it is crucial to understand the connection between alcohol and mental health and get the right support at an alcohol addiction treatment center.
How Are Alcohol and Mental Health Related?
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the brain, disrupting the delicate balance of chemicals and processes. Alcohol suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitters slowing down brain function. At the same time, it increases the inhibitory neurotransmitters, thus slowing down your thought, speech, and movements. These changes in the chemical and physiological processes in the brain may result in several mental health issues.
If you are experiencing anxiety, drinking might help you feel at ease. However, the feeling is temporary, and the effects will wear off very fast. While alcohol gives you a relaxed feeling, it distracts you from dealing with reality, making you ignore the underlying stress and anxiety. Relying on alcohol to mask anxiety poses a greater risk of alcohol dependence and tolerance.
Prolonged alcohol abuse may cause severe effects on the nervous systems responsible for regulating our moods. Consequently, you may feel depressed after drinking. After a long time of alcohol abuse, you may develop chronic depression. In another sense, post-drinking hangovers can be difficult to deal with after a heavy night of drinking. You may experience the usual headaches and nausea alongside feelings of depression.
Suicide, Self-Harm, and Psychosis
Due to the imbalance that alcohol causes in the brain, it can make you lose your inhibitions. Eventually, it can lead you to do things that you would not otherwise have done. Some of them include self-harm and even suicide. Even worse, extreme drinking can cause psychosis. You may then develop delusions of persecutions and severe hallucinations.
Since alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the brain’s processes. As a result, your memory is at high risk of being damaged. You may start experiencing short term memory loss where you wake up and cannot remember what you did or said the previous day. While short memory loss is not necessarily an indicator of brain damage, frequent heavy drinking, and the resulting alterations of brain chemistry and process may result in brain damage.
How Do I Stay in Control of Alcohol and Mental Health?
According to addiction specialists, the risks of developing serious mental health issues are higher if you drink heavily and regularly. Therefore, it is best to cut back and keep your drinking in control to manage your mental health. Some of the tips to help you manage your drinking habits include:
Finding alternative ways to cope with stress: Instead of drowning your frustrations by reaching for a beer or a glass of wine, find a physical activity to engage in. Perhaps you can go for a run, swim, or take part in a yoga class.
Develop alcohol-free days: Taking regular off days from alcohol keeps your drinking manageable and prevents you from being addicted to it.
Help at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
If you are struggling with alcohol abuse and are experiencing feelings of distress and anxiety, receive a dual diagnosis from a reputable addiction treatment center in Georgia. At Georgia Treatment Center, we offer a comprehensive dual diagnosis rehab program. Some of the therapies we offer include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy program
- Group therapy
- Trauma-focused treatment
- Family therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Concerned about your drinking habits? Contact medical professionals at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center at 833.641.0661 to learn more about alcohol and mental health as well as the treatment options available.