ALCOHOL MISUSE AND MENTAL DISORDERS

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

There is some evidence linking light alcohol consumption with better health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 drinks on a daily basis have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may decrease risk of stroke in females. There is a whole lot more evidence showing that drinking excessive alcohol leads to 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 issues. Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health problems. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe mental illness. 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 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 also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. When drinking, this is one of the reasons that many people become angry or aggressive. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

One of the main conditions linked 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 individuals to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol issues are more common among people 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 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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