Alcohol abuse is considered a serious issue in the United States. Among adults, at least 86.3% have had alcohol before. Within one month, an estimated 55.3% of American adults have had one or more drinks. While drinking alcohol occasionally does not pose a problem, there’s an issue that comes into play when this habit becomes a more consistent activity.
Emerging studies show that there may be a strong link between alcohol abuse and depression. It’s common to see alcohol abuse and depression go hand in hand. Even when undergoing treatment, alcohol withdrawal depression must be strongly considered.
In this article, we’ll look at how alcohol may affect the mind – including a risk of depression. We’ll also consider how a multi-action treatment program may be an effective way of dealing with both alcohol abuse and depression.
The Impact of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol use disorder affects millions of people in the United States. Recent statistics show that about 14.4 million adults in the country have problems with this disorder. This calculates to an estimated 5.8% of adults in the country. Among the individuals affected by alcohol use disorder, the majority are men.
Adolescents are also affected by alcohol use disorder. Among adolescents aged between 12 and 17, there are over 400,000 who experience dependence on alcohol. Among adolescents, there’s a higher prevalence among teenage girls.
Alcohol abuse doesn’t only lead to a burden on the individual, including both psychological and physiological complications. Every year, more than 80,000 people in the US die due to alcohol-related events. Driving fatalities linked to alcohol use accounts for 31% of all deaths caused by a vehicle accident.
There’s also an economic burden caused by alcohol abuse. Alcohol use disorders cause a financial burden of more than $240 billion annually. Binge drinking is a major concern too. At least 33% of the financial burden mentioned here is related to incidents associated with binge drinking habits.
Depression in Alcohol Dependence
Depression and related psychological problems are commonly noted in people with alcohol use disorder. Not every person who feels like they have to rely on alcohol will develop depression. Yet, statistics still show a strong association. Thus, when a person is identified as a victim of alcohol abuse, their psychological well-being needs to be taken into consideration.
Depression can occur during any stage of alcohol abuse. This includes the active stage, where the person continues to turn to alcohol on a consistent basis. During and following treatment, depression continues to pose a challenge for many patients.
The link between alcohol addiction and depression is rather complex.
We should start by considering alcohol as a depressant in itself through its impact on the central nervous system. Additionally, some people find that alcohol causes short-term psychological alterations. This may include anger, frustration, and similar actions. Consistent use of alcohol continues to aggravate the situation – ultimately causing issues with a person’s daily life, as well as their social relationships.
Many intimate relationships are scarred when one partner becomes dependent on alcohol. Alcohol has also been linked to physical abuse in some cases. There are studies that have confirmed the fact that alcohol may lead to violent behaviors.
With this in mind, both direct and indirect effects of alcohol may contribute to a depressive mood in affected patients. Direct effects include alterations in cognitive functions, including thinking, information processing, and memory. Indirectly, the violent behavior and consistent reliance on alcohol may cause the patient to adopt a more depressive mindset. This depression may also have adverse effects on loved ones – creating a depressive mood among a partner and children, or, in some cases, parents.
It’s also important to note that depression is not always a secondary condition. There are cases where a depressed patient starts to turn to alcohol as a “way out.” In these scenarios, alcoholic beverages may interfere with depression treatment. It may also lead to a worsening of the depressive symptoms a patient already experiences.
Alcohol Withdrawal and Depression
When a person decides to stop using alcohol, they will often need to undergo a treatment process. It’s important for the patient to understand what alcohol withdrawal symptoms are. Additionally, understanding what to expect is also important.
Once alcohol is stopped, the body will react by craving alcoholic beverages. When alcohol is not provided, it creates withdrawal symptoms.
During withdrawal, depression and other mental problems are possible. There are studies that show a link between alcohol withdrawal, particularly during the treatment process and depression.
It’s important that we also consider the effect of alcohol on hormones and neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. With continuous alcohol usage, there’s an unbalance in dopamine neurotransmitters. During alcohol withdrawal, the patient no longer experiences the dopamine release that came from the use of alcohol.
The reduced release of this neurotransmitter essentially causes a decrease in mood. This is also where a link between alcohol withdrawal and depression comes into the picture. With a reduced mood caused by the changes in neurotransmitters, the patient may feel depressed.
The co-occurrence of the disorders needs to be addressed simultaneously in these cases to reduce the risk of a relapse.
Providing a Multi-Action Treatment Program
When someone has an addiction to alcohol and require treatment, simply addressing the dependence that developed may not be sufficient. As mentioned before, there’s a serious risk of depression among people who are addicted to alcohol. When depression is also developed as part of alcohol abuse, further treatment is needed.
This is why many treatment centers would provide patients with access to a dual treatment program. These programs not only focus on providing treatment for the physiological symptoms a person experience, but a long term alcohol detox program may provide strategies that help to reduce both physical and psychological symptoms.
The patient would gain access to counseling services. Studies have shown that counseling, as part of a primary care program, is highly effective at improving depression symptoms. Additionally, studies also show an improvement in the quality of life among patients.
Medicated treatment options are also utilized to further assist in the management of withdrawal and psychological complications. There are drugs used to assist in reducing the withdrawal symptoms a patient experiences. Additional antidepressants may also be used in case a patient has depressive symptoms.
Over 20% of US adults participate in binge drinking once or on multiple occasions every month. This may lead to the development of an alcohol abuse problem. When dependence on the substance occurs, the person is also at risk of depression and other psychological complications.
If these symptoms are noticed, alcohol detox is an effective strategy for people to overcome alcohol abuse, as well as depression. A residential treatment center for alcohol can be consulted by individuals with more serious problems. In less serious cases, alcohol detox in Texas may rather provide an outpatient treatment solution.