Alcohol and Depression During the Pandemic

Feb 19, 2021 · 4 mins read
Alcohol and Depression During the Pandemic
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It’s a common belief that “alcohol drowns sorrows”. In reality alcohol abuse, or dependence has many adverse effects on our health. And this is no joke considering both alcohol consumption and mental health issues are on the rise during the pandemic.

Alcohol is the most widely consumed central nervous system (CNS) depressant and the cause of a high percentage of premature mortality. Just take a look within any rehab Cape Town has to offer, and you’ll find a plethora of alcohol related cases.

It’s no surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) defines alcohol as “the most commonly consumed brain depressant”. It is also a “major cause of morbidity and mortality”.

Contributing to this is the social permissiveness involved in the use of this drug and the fatal habit of combining it with the intake of other psychotropic substances.

Thus, it is common for some people to resort to the use of psychoactive substances as a way of escaping from reality or of coping with pain and psychological grief. In this sense, drugs are used as a coping strategy to overcome the most stressful stages of life.

Likewise, poor or unstable mental health can promote substance abuse. In fact, this type of person has a higher level of vulnerability to these substances, and alcohol abuse is the most common route.

However, the psychological and psychiatric consequences of alcoholism are numerous. Among the most common alcohol consumption disorders are: depressive states, anxiety, affective disorders and anti-social personality disorders. Not to mention the amplifying effect it can have on people with previous bipolar or depressive disorders.

Depression and Alcoholism

Alcohol and depression are a binomial that often feed back in both directions. On the one hand, people with a certain tendency to depression are prone to excessive alcohol consumption. On the other hand, individuals with a history of alcohol abuse or dependence often experience secondary depression. Either during their period of consumption or during the stages of abstinence.

Moreover, depressive disorder, along with anxiety, is one of the most typical mental health disorders associated with excessive alcohol consumption. In fact, international research shows that depression affects more than 50% of people with alcohol dependence.

Thus, depression functions as a personal motive for continuing to consume alcoholic substances. However, what many people do not know is that, although alcohol is a powerful inhibitor of the CNS, its consequences on depression are disastrous. Because what really happens is that alcohol aggravates previous depressive disorders or generates them in the consumer’s life.

It should be noted that the negative consequences of alcoholism -of a biopsychosocial nature- lead the subject to a poor and conflictive lifestyle. This will create a gloomy context that will end up undermining the person’s state of mind, causing him/her to fall into a depressive state.

Let us think of the physical problems derived from this addiction that limit the performance of daily life activities. Let us add to this, the psychological disorders that have repercussions on the capacity of judgment and the most appropriate decision making. As well as the antisocial behaviors induced by the ethyl substance, the result of which will be the family and social isolation of the consumer.

Medication and alcohol

It is often said that the habit of drinking alcohol frequently is usually the prelude to the consumption of other psychoactive substances.

In the case of people with a health history of depression, it is common for them to take pharmacological treatments based on antidepressants. However, the relationship between these drugs and alcoholic substances can lead to numerous problems for the organism.

If alcohol intake is already contraindicated when under medical treatment, this contraindication is even more pressing in the case of antidepressant drugs. The sum of both psychoactive substances intensifies the effects of each of them on the body.

Thus, since we are dealing with both substances inhibiting the CNS, the main consequence is an intense depression of the organism. That is to say, either the depressive symptoms are exacerbated or the alteration in behavior and self-control is increased.

Also, as can be expected, the sedative effects are deepened, resulting in:

  • Brain fog.
  • Slower than usual motor skills.
  • Wild mood swings including irritability or passive aggressiveness.
  • Drowsiness during the day.
  • Poor memory and concentration.

All in all, it is known that depression acts on the brain in a similar way to alcohol. This is why antidepressant psychotropic drugs are often prescribed to overcome alcoholism problems.

Especially to cope with the withdrawal syndrome that arises after discontinuation of alcohol consumption, or in cases of patients with severe depression and concomitant alcoholism. If you are experiencing the obvious symptoms, you may need to consider getting checking into the best rehab Cape Town has to offer.