ALCOHOL ABUSE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DYSFUNCTIONSMental health problems not only result from drinking too much alcohol. They can also provoke individuals to drink too much.
There is some evidence connecting light drinking with better physical health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 drinks daily have been found to help defend against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a little glass of red wine everyday may decrease risk of stroke in women. There is far more evidence demonstrating that drinking too much alcohol leads to grievous physical and psychological 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 also help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems. Alcohol conditions are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental disease. 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 conditions 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 even 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 anger, anxiety or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them. 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 individuals 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 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 problems. 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.