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Specifically, some studies focused on drinking patterns rather than on alcohol dependence or described mood/anxiety symptoms rather than true psychiatric disorders. The distinction is important, because symptoms might be only temporary, whereas true psychiatric disorders are likely to require long-term and more intensive treatments, including psychotherapy and medication. Thus, few of the investigations offered assurance that an alcoholic or alcoholic’s addiction relapse relative actually had a long-term psychiatric syndrome rather than a temporary alcohol-induced condition. These disorders are characterized by disrupted mood (e.g., low, numb, or irritable), along with an array of cognitive (e.g., feelings of worthlessness and difficulty concentrating) and physical (e.g., fatigue and lack of energy) symptoms. However, treating most alcoholics’ depressive symptoms might not require the use of antidepressant medications.

The connection between drinking alcohol and depression is a complicated “the chicken or the egg” conundrum. If you’ve ever used alcohol to deal with feelings of depression, you may have found that after your buzz wears off, you’re left feeling even lower than before. The ECT process has evolved significantly, and the current form is much gentler and more targeted than in the past.

  1. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the cause-and-effect dynamic between alcohol and depression.
  2. When alcohol is used, these chemical balances are significantly impacted, which may result in poor decision-making.
  3. However, drinking alcohol to improve your mood can still put you at risk for developing AUD.

When you have healthy habits in place to cope with unwanted feelings, you’ll probably find it easier to use these strategies to push back against distressing emotions you might experience while drinking. But regularly drinking more alcohol than these guidelines recommend can pose a number of health risks, including depression. Drinking water may not have a direct impact on feelings of depression, but rehydrating can absolutely help you start feeling better physically. As hangover symptoms begin to subside, the emotional effects may follow. If you already have depression, you might feel even worse, since alcohol can magnify the intensity of your emotions.

But depression and anxiety sometimes go together – feeling anxious and worrying constantly can make you feel low. Alcohol can make a person feel depressed and may even trigger or worsen depression. Depression is also a risk factor for using alcohol, since people who feel depressed may use alcohol to ease their symptoms. It can influence your mood and produce feelings of pleasure, motivating you to continue behaviors that make you feel good — like drinking alcohol.

Drink plenty of water

Treatment approaches have improved significantly over the years for treating both depressive disorders as well as alcohol use disorders. Whether depression is a stand-alone diagnosis or caused by drinking, alcohol often worsens symptoms. However, depression symptoms can improve after abstaining from alcohol for about 3 to 4 weeks. And, having more severe depression doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a more challenging time recovering from AUD. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common mental health disorder in people with AUD. This may be because MDD is one of the most common conditions in the general population.

How alcohol affects your brain

We reviewed any articles published by one research group investigating similar variables for any possible duplication. Cochrane, a quality assessment tool, was also used to evaluate the included studies [14]. A combination of alcohol use and depression can create difficulties in treatment. A person who uses alcohol and who has depression may not be able to tell which symptoms are due to which issue until they seek treatment. Because of the complicated relationship between depression and alcohol use, Lurie says it’s best to address both at the same time through a specialized treatment program. Additionally, Prashant Sharma, a board-certified psychiatrist and professor at Johns Hopkins University, says drinking alcohol can reduce levels of the brain chemical GABA.

You might also want to consider natural supplements such as tyrosine, 5-HTP, and ashwagandha to help rebalance your brain’s neurotransmitters. Just check with your doctor before trying these, especially if you’re taking medication. In addition, attempting to stop drinking and going through withdrawal can worsen depression, making it even harder to quit. People with AUD are 1.7 times more likely to have had PDD in the previous year.

Alcohol and depression

Tietz began feeling intense self-loathing and having thoughts that her husband might be better off without her. She quit drinking for 90 days as a result of these suicidal thoughts and noticed they quickly went away. Once she began feeling pangs of shame while drinking heavily after work, she decided to go back to AA.

Depending on the severity of the disorders, you may need more intense treatment, such as outpatient care, integrated assertive community (ACT) treatment or a residential stay, which may be required to begin or continue your recovery journey. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be used to treat dealing with an alcoholic: how to cope co-occurring AUD and MDD, by improving your emotional regulation, changing your cognitive behaviors, and helping you develop personal coping strategies. “In our society alcohol is readily available and socially acceptable,” says Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, author of Whole Brain Living, explains.

Kitley continues to use this fellowship as a resource while working on her sobriety. As a licensed therapist, Kitley knew the signs of depression and substance abuse — in fact, she attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting as part of her required grad school training. Antidepressants focus on treating the dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine neurochemical receptors by promoting increased chemical balance within the brain. They can take up to days to reach their full effect, and treatment with them usually lasts at least a year or longer depending on individual needs. Medication can provide consistent support to help with the mental and physical effects of depression.

When other factors beyond alcohol play into your mood, however, feelings of depression might persist even after your hangover improves. Research has substantially improved understanding of the etiology, course, and treatment of co-occurring AUD and depressive disorders. However, significant gaps remain in our understanding of these two disorders, and these gaps present important opportunities for future research. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), if depression symptoms persist after one month without consuming alcohol, then a different depressive disorder diagnosis would apply.