ALCOHOL ABUSE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

Mental health conditions not only result from consuming too much alcohol. They can also compel individuals to drink too much.

There is some evidence connecting light alcohol consumption with better overall health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 units daily have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine daily may decrease risk of stroke in women. There is much more evidence demonstrating that drinking excessive alcohol leads to serious bodily and mental illnesses. Put 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 also help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health conditions. Alcohol issues are more common among people with more severe mental health conditions. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental disease. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental disease is sometimes called 'self-medication' by individuals in the mental health field. This is often why individuals with mental health conditions drink. But it can make existing mental health conditions worse. Evidence demonstrates that individuals 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 illnesses, 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. When drinking, this is one of the reasons that many people become aggressive or angry. If our underlying feelings are of unhappiness, anger or anxiety, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

One of the main issues connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people 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. This can lead some people 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 issues. If our underlying feelings are of anger, anxiety or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main issues linked 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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