Alcohol and depression – alcohol aggravates symptoms of depression

People have always drunk, both in sadness and in joy. However, alcohol – and in particular its excessive consumption – can itself cause depression and related symptoms, such as insomnia. Alcohol is not, therefore, an antidepressant.

Depression can be a consequence of experiences of loneliness, or unfortunate life changes or loss. Quitting alcohol after long-term heavy drinking may also cause depression.

Alcohol covers up the symptoms of depression

The most common symptoms include a loss of interest, changes in appetite, sleep disorders, poor concentration, and a feeling of hopelessness.

Symptoms of depression that arise from quitting alcohol after long-term heavy drinking will ease within several weeks. Symptoms arising from other issues may last several weeks, months or even years. Other psychological symptoms may appear in addition to those of depression, such as anxiety, fear and panic attacks.

The effects of alcohol addiction tend to cover up the symptoms of other illnesses, meaning that alcohol use may delay the identification of other illnesses and hinder their treatment. For example, patients with depression can often be appropriately treated only after they have stopped using alcohol.

Read more about the harmful effects of alcohol and illnesses caused by alcohol.

Excessive alcohol use causes symptoms of depression

People may try to use alcohol to reduce depression in the same manner as it is used to alleviate stress or overcome loneliness. However, excessive alcohol use in itself causes symptoms of depression or makes them even worse. The treatment of an underlying cause of depression or another psychological problem is often a requirement for being treated for alcohol dependency.

Alcohol is not a cure for insomnia

Insomnia is common among both problem users of alcohol and those suffering from depression. However, it doesn’t pay to tempt sleep with a nightcap, as even a small quantity of alcohol has been shown to reduce the amount of restorative sleep you will get. Read more about how alcohol affects sleep.

Article sources:
Duodecim Current Care Guidelines

Article picture: Folio Images