Drinking is no cure for sorrow

People have always looked to alcohol in times of sorrow. However, constant alcohol use also causes depression and darkens the mind and is therefore of little help in the end.

Over the course of our lives, nearly all of us experience difficult periods that strain and wear down our mental health. On the other hand, it is possible cope with highly stressful events without serious adverse effects on mental health. As alcohol may initially help to relieve the feelings of stress, mentally straining events or constant stress may lead to an increase in alcohol use. However, as casual alcohol use continues, its harmful social effects may often create new conflicts and worsen the feelings of stress. Stress can also cause a person trying to limit their alcohol use to relapse. 

Alcohol may worsen anxiety and depression

Anxiety is a normal and passing feeling. However, feelings of anxiety may sometimes be prolonged or recurring. Alcohol soothes anxiety temporarily and may, for example, help alleviate feelings of fear or nervousness in social situations. Constant anxiety may therefore result in increased alcohol use. For women in particular, however, the prolonged use of alcohol may cause panic attacks and worsen depression. 

Depression is a normal condition during many of life’s crises. A depressed person’s interest in everyday matters is weakened or lost altogether. At its core, depression is a result of the sorrowful mind and the loss of enjoyment from things. Depression is often temporary, but it has the tendency to stubbornly return. People have always looked to alcohol in times of sorrow. Insurmountable grief may therefore even increase alcohol use. However, constant alcohol use also causes depression and darkens the mind and is therefore of little help in the end.

Alcohol brings sleep but robs energy

Insomnia is common among people who abuse alcohol. Feelings of stress or anxiety often prevent sleep and cause sleeplessness in the early night-time. As a result of depression, sleep is also intermittent and often ends altogether during the early mornings hours. The insomniac cannot regain enough energy and suffers from fatigue. Many take up the habit of using alcohol as sleep medicine. Insomnia may therefore increase alcohol use. While a small amount of alcohol can help in falling asleep, drinking more can result in waking up in the early hours with difficulties in falling back to sleep. Insomnia is also commonplace after heavy alcohol use, as the turbulent REM sleep turns easily into a nightmare that wakes up the restless sleeper.

Alcohol hides symptoms

Patients with mental health problems often have different types of disorders or even several illnesses at once. For these patients, mood or anxiety disorders are often accompanied by problematic alcohol use. The effects of alcohol addiction tend to cover the symptoms of any other illnesses. As a result, they may delay the identification of other illnesses and hinder their treatment. By stopping the use of alcohol, other simultaneous illnesses can be diagnosed and treated. Patients with depression or panic disorder, for example, can often be appropriately treated only after alcohol use has been stopped.

Picture: Hero/Gorilla

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