ALCOHOL USE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

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

There is some evidence connecting light alcohol consumption with improved overall health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 units on a daily basis have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may reduce risk of stroke in women. There is a lot more evidence indicating that drinking excessive alcohol results in significant bodily and mental 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 issues are more common among people with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe mental illness. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental disease is sometimes called 'self-medication' by individuals in the mental health field. This is often why individuals with mental health issues drink. It can make existing mental health conditions worse. Evidence shows 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 even help 'numb' our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. When drinking, this is one of the reasons that many individuals become aggressive or angry. Anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them if our underlying feelings are of anxiety. What about the after-effects?

When the effects have worn off, one of the main conditions connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people 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 problems are more common among individuals with more severe mental health issues. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, unhappiness or anger, 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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