Alcohol is often associated with stress relief, feelings of happiness and having a good time, however, consuming large amounts of alcohol can have long term effects on mental health. Even small servings can change the way in which an individual behaves, reducing their inhibitions and impairing their decision making skills, motor skills and speech. Frequent heavy drinking can interfere with the chemicals in the brain, leading to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Our brains work like giant computers on a much smaller scale, processing information that it receives from the senses and body and sending information back. Not only does it control what our bodies do, but it controls our thoughts and emotions too. The chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, are responsible for transmitting signals from one nerve to another.
Whilst these chemicals and processes are balanced, our brains work in the way they should, however, when a substance such as alcohol enters our systems, it disrupts the balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions. This is because alcohol is a depressant, meaning it lowers neurotransmission levels, slowing down the messages between the brain and body.
This causes those feelings of relaxation an individual initially feels when they consume small to medium amounts of alcohol. As they drink more, the brain’s functions are affected even further and can eventually lead to aggression, anger anxiety or depression.
Alcohol & Stress
It’s common for people to come home after a stressful day and have an alcoholic drink to relieve the stress. Although this is a quick fix, this is only a temporary distraction from what’s really bothering them and stops them from confronting whatever is causing them to feel stressed.
If an individual frequently drinks alcohol as a way to cope against stress, the brain can adapt to the alcohol’s presence and become tolerant, leading to heavier drinking in order to feel the same levels of relaxation they once felt. Tolerance can also lead to withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops drinking. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include sweating, increased heart rate, agitation, shaking, anxiety, depression and seizures.
Alcohol & Anxiety
Feelings of anxiety are a common symptom of withdrawal, however, for those who already suffer with anxiety, their symptoms can worsen with alcohol. Unfortunately, many people suffering with mental health problems use substances like alcohol to feel more relaxed and gain confidence, though as we know, this is only a short-term fix. For some people, even small amounts of alcohol can worsen anxiety as their ability to interpret things is decreased.
At Acquiesce’s alcohol rehab centre we gain help start yours, or a loved one’s recovery from alcohol addiction, book a consultation with us today or get in touch with a helpful member of our team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Alcohol & Depression
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis has been linked with symptoms of depression, particularly during withdrawal. Many people who already suffer from depression use alcohol as a method of coping, however, this is a short term fix and does not address the illness, often making it worse once the brain becomes tolerant to the alcohol and struggles to function without it. This is because of the way in which alcohol affects the chemicals in our brains that are responsible for regulating our moods.
An important thing to note is that alcohol just should absolutely not be consumed when an individual is taking antidepressant drugs. This does not mean the individual should take the antidepressants in order to have a drink, but rather they should avoid alcohol at all costs.
Better Ways to Relax
Instead of using alcohol as a method of relaxing, you should try to use healthier methods such as yoga, exercise, listening to music, having a hot bath or talking to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. Hobbies are also great ways to take time away and de-stress.
Yoga benefits your mental health by increasing body awareness, relieving stress, improving attention. Exercise can also improve your mental health by boosting your self-esteem, reducing stress, anxiety and contributing to the prevention of mental health problems developing. This is because when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling. Similarly, music also releases the feel-good chemical dopamine.
At Acquiesce, we understand that once the cycle of using alcohol has begun, stopping drinking is easier said than done. That’s why at Acquiesce, we offer different programmes to help you or a loved one recover from an alcohol addiction and learn to address and cope with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. We have helped many individuals in different circumstances to overcome alcohol addiction for good, using our effective and sensitive detox, psychological, spiritual, social, physical and holistic approaches.