Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is a contributing factor in suicides. In 2017, the CDC reported 47,173 suicide deaths in the United States. Although some people turn to alcohol to soothe the pain caused by depression, alcohol use will worsen depression and not make the situation better. Whether alcoholism actually causes depression, or simply worsens it is a matter of debate. But, there clearly is a connection between alcoholism and depression.
A Downward Spiral
A person using alcohol to stem the negative feelings of depression will eventually suffer the consequences of alcoholism. Whether it’s financial difficulties, deteriorating relationships, problems at work, or health issues, alcoholism will create its own set of issues that will contribute to and worsen depression. Nearly a third of those suffering from depression, also have an alcohol-related disorder of some kind. Alcoholism and depression can feed on each other.
Alcoholism can take someone who is somewhat depressed or who has a genetic predisposition for depression and make the situation much worse.
The Connection Between Alcoholism and Depression
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
- Alcoholism and a second disorder can co-occur, either sequentially or simultaneously, by coincidence.
- Alcoholism can cause various medical and psychiatric conditions or increase their severity.
- Comorbid disorders might cause alcoholism or increase its severity.
- Both alcoholism and the comorbid disorder may be caused, separately, by some third condition.
- Alcohol use or alcohol withdrawal can produce symptoms that mimic those of an independent psychiatric disorder.
Alcohol use can increase the frequency of suicidal thoughts. There have also been studies that alcoholism is causal – that it actually can lead to depression. This analysis becomes a little bit of a chicken and an egg situation; we know that people who are depressed have a much greater likelihood of suffering depression. So, when did the addiction begin? Did they begin drinking to deal with depression, or did they become an alcoholic which led to depression? Or was it some combination of the two? Regardless, the connection between alcoholism and depression is clear.
Abusing alcohol over time can change the way the brain works. Alcohol can impact the brain’s neurotransmitters, altering how the brain actually functions and likely being a cause or a significant contributor to depression.
The Symptoms of Depression
People sometimes turn to alcohol to deal with the pain of depression because they have not been diagnosed with depression and are unaware that they should seek treatment for it. Signs of depression include:
- Losing interesting in activities and hobbies that the person once was passionate about
- Feeling sad or down
- Feeling hopeless
- Having a general feeling of malaise
- Inability to concentrate
- Anger issues
Alcoholism and depression often go hand-in-hand with many of these symptoms.
A Barrier to Effective Treatment
Alcohol is not an effective way to deal with depression, regardless of the causes of depression. Worse, alcoholism can prevent someone suffering from depression from seeking the help they need. Even when a person seeks help for depression if they are also suffering from alcoholism that help and treatment will be undermined and ineffective.
To treat depression, the alcoholism that often accompanies it also has to be treated. The characteristics of addiction, however, can often create challenges. Someone who doesn’t want to admit they have a problem can prevent them from getting help. Eventually, you need to seek help for alcoholism and depression and deal with both issues jointly.
Get Help Today at The District Recovery
You don’t have to face alcoholism and depression alone – you can overcome addiction with the help of sober living homes, like the ones at The District Recovery Center. Don’t let addiction control you and ruin your life. Contact us at 844.287.8506 and get the help you deserve.