ALCOHOL ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health issues not only arise from consuming too much alcohol. They can also compel people to drink too much.

There is some evidence linking light drinking with improved overall health in some adults. Between one and three drinks on a daily basis have been found to help defend 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 much more evidence demonstrating that drinking excessive alcohol results in significant physical and mental 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 also help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health conditions. Alcohol conditions are more common among individuals with more severe mental health problems. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental disorder. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental disorder is sometimes called 'self-medication' by people in the mental health field. This is often why individuals with mental health issues drink. But it can make existing mental health conditions worse. Evidence shows 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 diseases, 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 even changes. How these change depends on how much we drink and how quickly we drink it. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can even help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become angry or aggressive when drinking. Anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them if our underlying feelings are of anxiety. What about the after-effects?



When the effects have worn off, one of the main conditions connected 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 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 conditions. If our underlying feelings are of unhappiness, anger or anxiety, 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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