Is It True That Alcoholism Leads to Depression?

There are so many questions and also misconceptions surrounding mental health and its relationship to addiction. For example, something a lot of people ask is whether alcoholism leads to depression, or “are alcohol and depression linked?”

There are several areas where there can be cases of alcoholism with depression and a relationship existing between alcohol and depression, and the following provides an overview of some of these interactions.

Is It True That Alcoholism Leads to Depression?
First, it’s essential to understand what depression is and what the symptoms are.

Depression, also called major depressive disorder, is a medical illness that impacts your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When someone is depressed they tend to feel sad, and not interested in the activities they at one point enjoyed. There can be a combination of physical and emotional symptoms and adverse effects stemming from depression that ultimately inhibits functionality in a person’s daily life.

Depression symptoms include changes in appetite, sleeping problems including sleeping too much or too little, loss of energy, fatigue, slowing in speech patterns or movement, and feeling guilty or worthless.

To be clinically diagnosed as depressed, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks.

Depression impacts nearly seven percent of adults in a year, and one in six people will experience at some time in their life.

Certain risk factors can contribute to the likelihood of becoming depressed including chemicals in the brain, genetics, personality, and environmental influences such as being exposed to violence, neglect or poverty.

So how is there a relationship of alcoholism with depression, and are alcoholism and depression linked?

So, are alcoholism and depression linked?

The answer is yes, there is a link between alcoholism with depression. Studies show that almost 1/3 of people with major depression also have a problem with alcohol abuse, and in many cases, the depression came before the substance abuse. According to research, kids with depression are more likely to have problems with alcohol eventually, and teens who have had a period of major depression are two times as likely to start drinking as their peers who haven’t.

Often as with other mental health disorders, people will start to drink as a way to self-medicate their depression. They may find that initially it helps them feel better and maybe more uplifted, but that doesn’t maintain.

Not only is there the possibility that depression leads to alcoholism, but when you combine alcoholism with depression, it can make you have more frequent and severe periods of depression. You may also be more likely to contemplate suicide, and drinking heavily can diminish the effectiveness of antidepressants.

While one of the reasons there may be a relationship between alcohol with depression is because of people wanting to self-medicate, there is also another theory. This is that alcoholism leads to depression.

So, are alcoholism and depression linked in the sense that alcohol contributes to depression or worsens depression?

One way that alcoholism leads to depression or worsens it is because the cycle of alcohol abuse can damage areas of a person’s life, such as their career or relationships, and that can make depression worse.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, depression can be triggered during a cycle of alcoholism, and it can also get worse if it already existed in the individual.

A study published in the Addiction Journal also showed that people with alcohol use disorder or depression are two times as likely to develop the other condition.

One of the reasons it’s believed that there is the potential that alcoholism leads to depression is because of the changes in the physiology of your brain and your metabolic system when you abuse alcohol. When you abuse alcohol, you’re at a much higher risk of developing depression as compared to someone who doesn’t abuse alcohol or another substance.

Ultimately, what this means is that alcoholism leads to depression in some cases, and if you have alcoholism with depression, you are potentially making both issues worse.

Since alcoholism with depression is such a commonly occurring situation, most medical professionals recommend that people receive treatment for both with a Dual Diagnosis. This is a way for the underlying mental health disorder of depression to be assessed and treated simultaneously with addiction treatment.