ALCOHOL ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health issues not only arise from drinking too much alcohol. They can also provoke individuals to drink too much.

There is some evidence connecting light drinking with improved health in some adults. Between one and three units daily have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a little glass of red wine daily may decrease risk of stroke in women. There is far more evidence showing that drinking excessive alcohol results in serious bodily and psychological illnesses. Stated very simply, a major reason for drinking alcohol is to change our mood - or change our mental state. Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression; it can even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health issues. Alcohol problems are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol compels severe mental illness. Evidence demonstrates that people who consume high amounts of alcohol are vulnerable to higher levels of mental ill health and it can be a contributory factor in some mental disorders, such as depression.

How does drinking affect our moods and mental health?

When we have alcohol in our blood, our mood changes, and our behaviour then also changes. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. Alcohol can even reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become angry or aggressive when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, unhappiness or anger, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

When the effects have worn off, one of the main conditions linked with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people may feel much worse. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression. This can lead some individuals to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol conditions are more common among individuals with more severe mental health conditions. If our underlying feelings are of unhappiness, anxiety or anger, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main conditions connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that individuals may feel much worse when the effects have worn off. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression.

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