If you have a co-occurring disorder, such as a dependency on alcohol for depression, recovery is sometimes more difficult after a mood disorder treatment program. Depression symptoms can make you consume more alcohol, while alcohol consumption can worsen your depression. So it leaves us asking, can alcohol cause depression?
More than 15 million American adults meet the criteria for an alcohol abuse disorder each year. More than 70% of adults have consumed alcohol within the past year, making alcohol one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances in the country. Alcohol is legal, even though it is prone to abuse and can lead to alcoholism and serious medical problems.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it creates calming effects and decreases your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. However, it also leads to your brain releasing too much GABA, which ultimately creates a neurotransmitter imbalance.
Can Alcohol Cause Depression?
Can alcohol cause depression? Alcohol and depression can both cause neurotransmitter imbalances. Like other psychoactive substances, alcohol inhibits the release of pleasurable neurotransmitters. When you suffer from depression, you typically have a shortage of serotonin. Suffering from a co-occurring condition can increase your risks of using drugs and alcohol as an unhealthy method of self-medicating. While drugs and alcohol can create temporary euphoria and alleviate symptoms, they ultimately worsen co-occurring disorders.
Your brain connects alcohol with pleasure when you become intoxicated, which can lead to changes to your pleasure and reward center. Over time, your brain may only release neurotransmitters when you drink. If you have depression, experiencing neurotransmitter depletion following alcohol intoxication can aggravate your mental health symptoms.
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you will deal with potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. Delirium tremors are a rare alcohol detox complication that can cause psychosis, seizures, and death. Detox programs can:
- Decrease your chances of relapsing
- Utilize medications, such as benzodiazepines, to reduce your symptoms
- Monitor co-occurring and comorbid conditions
- Connect you with inpatient and outpatient treatment programs
- Decrease your risk of experiencing delirium tremors
During detox, depression symptoms can also intensify. A substance abuse and mood disorder treatment program ensures that both your conditions are treated at the same time.
Inpatient and outpatient programs offer different levels of care, but both utilize evidence-based and holistic therapies. Inpatient programs usually last for up to 28 days and may or may not include detox services. Long-term residential programs provide inpatient care for several months or longer. Sober living housing provides a safe and supportive living situation throughout treatment.
Outpatient programs can include:
- Partial hospitalization program
- Group therapy program, individual therapy program and family counseling
- Peer-led support groups
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Medication assisted therapy
Outpatient care allows you to return home each night, which is beneficial if you plan to resume or continue working or attending school during recovery.
Finding Help Today
Alcohol and depression are a dangerous combination. So can alcohol cause depression? Alcohol abuse can cause or worsen depression, while uncontrolled depression symptoms can cause you to drink more, trapping you in a vicious cycle. Finding treatment starts with a single phone call. Contact us today at 866.782.0247 to find out more about how our programs can help you recover.