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6 Ways that Alcohol Makes Depression Worse


A great many alcoholics are also suffering from major depression. Because alcohol can feed our brain’s serotonin receptors, it can make someone feel good for a short amount of time. But eventually the person crashes and feels even worse than they did before.


And this vicious cycle continues and is, unfortunately, very hard to break without asking for professional help.


The Chicken or the Egg Theory


Both alcoholism and depression are psychiatric illnesses that cause distress and impair a person’s ability to function. It is not surprising at all that these two diseases are linked, but which tends to come first?


Researchers have found that alcoholism doubled a person’s risk of developing depression. In fact, the analysis indicated that alcoholism was more likely to cause or worsen depression than depression was likely to cause or worsen alcohol use/misuse.


6 Ways That Alcohol Can Worsen Depression

  1. Alcoholism can eventually lead to isolation, which exacerbates depression. Humans are social creatures and we can become very depressed when left alone for too long.

  2. Alcoholism also leads to poor economic outcomes, as is common with the loss of a job. Chronic financial stress can cause or worsen depression symptoms.

  3. Alcoholism can trigger health crises that can lead to or worsen depression. Fatty liver disease, heart disease and diabetes are just a few of the chronic illnesses linked with alcohol abuse.

  4. Alcohol can cause brain or metabolic changes that can lead to depression. For instance, alcohol can mess with a person’s endocrine system and the resulting hormonal imbalance can worsen their depression symptoms.

  5. Alcohol is a depressant. While it can make you feel “happier” initially, it eventually worsens the depression.

  6. Alcohol impairs judgement and increases impulsivity. This can lead to poor behavior and negative consequences that lead to or worsen feelings of depression.

The bottom line is alcohol abuse and depression are a dangerous combination. And unfortunately, this combination can be self-reinforcing and incredibly hard to break. Anyone who is feeling depressed and has a tendency to abuse alcohol should speak with a therapist to get their symptoms under control. A therapist will be able to offer coping strategies as well as refer you to a local addictive treatment center.


If you or a loved one are interested in exploring cognitive behavioral treatment, please be in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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