ALCOHOL MISUSE AND MENTAL DISORDERS

Mental health problems not only result from consuming too much alcohol. They can even cause people to drink too much.

There is some evidence connecting light drinking with better health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 units daily have been found to help defend against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may decrease risk of stroke in women. There is a lot more evidence showing that drinking too much alcohol results in significant bodily 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 conditions. Alcohol conditions are more common among people with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental illness. 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 illnesses, 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. How these change depends on how much we drink and how quickly we drink it. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can also help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become angry or aggressive when drinking. 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 issues associated 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 people to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol conditions are more common among people with more severe mental health problems. 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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