MENTAL DISORDERS AND ALCOHOL MISUSEMental health problems not only arise from drinking too much alcohol. They can even provoke people to drink too much.
There is some evidence connecting light drinking with better overall health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 units on a daily basis have been found to help protect us from heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may diminish risk of stroke in females. There is far 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 even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health issues. Alcohol issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe emotional 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 people with mental health issues drink. But it can make existing mental health problems worse. Evidence indicates 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 even reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people 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 problems associated 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 issues are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. If our underlying feelings are of anger, unhappiness or anxiety, 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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