PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS AND ALCOHOL ABUSE

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

There is some evidence connecting light drinking with improved overall health in some adults. Between one and three drinks daily have been found to help defend us from heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a little glass of red wine daily may reduce risk of stroke in females. There is much more evidence showing that drinking excessive alcohol leads to serious physical 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 even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health issues. Alcohol issues are more common among people with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol compels severe mental disorder. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental disorder is sometimes called 'self-medication' by individuals in the mental health field. This is often why individuals with mental health issues drink. It can make existing mental health issues worse. 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 also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. When drinking, this is one of the reasons that many individuals become aggressive or angry. If our underlying feelings are of anger, anxiety or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them. What about the after-effects?

One of the main issues associated 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. This can lead some individuals to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol problems 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 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.

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