Depression is a mental health disorder, and alcohol is a substance whose addictiveness may lead to abuse. At first glance, they may seem unrelated. But alcohol abuse and depression often appear as co-occurring disorders. As such, it is critical to understand how depression and alcohol influence each other and what kind of treatments are available to those who experience depression and alcohol abuse at the same time.
What Is Depression?
Before jumping into how depression and alcohol impact each other, it’s important to begin with an understanding of depression and its common symptoms. Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of Americans on an annual basis. Often, the onset of depression occurs in the teenage years and, at all life stages, is found to affect women at higher rates than men.
Many factors influence depression and its impact on a person’s life. One of the most common factors is genetics, as people with a family history of depression and other mental disorders are at much higher risk of developing a mental health issue. Other factors that contribute to a risk of developing depression include a death in the family, physical or sexual abuse, and traumatic events.
While not everyone’s experience with depression looks the same, some common symptoms include:
- Pervasive, persistent feelings of sadness
- Loss of interest in activities or life
- Trouble sleeping
- Suicidal thoughts
Depression and Alcohol
The main link between depression and alcohol is the way alcohol is often used by people experiencing depression as a form of self-medication. At first, alcohol use may relieve symptoms related to depression. But alcohol usage only serves to worsen and intensify a person’s struggle with mental illness over the long term.
If a person turns to alcohol in order to deal with depression, the development of a substance abuse disorder becomes possible. In fact, as many as one-third of people struggling with depression also develop an alcohol abuse disorder. Complicating things further, many common prescriptions meant to treat depression have negative interactions with alcohol, often causing them to work less efficiently and produce less positive effects.
It is also worth taking a critical look at when the relationship goes in the other direction, with alcohol usage predating depression. The connection here may seem less obvious. However, alcohol abuse that leads to depression is even more common than depression, putting someone at risk of developing an alcohol abuse disorder.
Whichever occurs first, treating both alcohol abuse and depression as co-occurring disorders is difficult and often requires professional help. The most common treatment methods for when alcohol abuse and depression co-occur include medication, rehab, and addiction therapy.
In cases where physical dependency on alcohol exists, rehab programs can provide medically supervised detox as patients experience withdrawal symptoms. For people who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can appear as soon as six hours following the last usage. Common withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol abuse are tremors, sweating, nausea, headaches, and anxiety. Within the first 48 hours of withdrawal, people may also experience more severe withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations or delirium tremens.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
Georgia Addiction Treatment Center offers comprehensive, individualized alcohol addiction treatment programs. We understand the influence depression and alcohol have on each other and are fully equipped to provide you with the care necessary to deal with both issues simultaneously.
Our treatment programs offer a variety of therapeutic approaches that acknowledge the connection between depression and alcohol, including:
You do not have to overcome addiction alone. We are here to guide you in your healing journey with the resources and support necessary to get you living your best life.
To learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment offerings, contact us today at 833.641.0661.