The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on Mental HealthImmediate effects of excessive drinking can cause insomnia, impaired judgment, poor impulse control, and other behavioral problems. As troubling as these reactions can be, they are only temporary. When you begin recovery, the symptoms subside. But long-term alcohol addiction can cause more significant problems to both your mental and physical health.
Quick Facts About Alcohol and DepressionPeople who turn to alcohol to ease depression may believe it helps them feel better, but research on the link between alcohol and depression doesn’t support that belief. Consider some facts about alcohol abuse:
- It’s estimated around 30% of people struggling with depression are also alcohol dependent.
- Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system.
- Chronic alcohol abuse can change the chemistry of the brain, increasing the risk for depression.
- Having an alcohol use disorder increases the risk of having depression.
- Babies exposed to alcohol in utero are at greater risk for experiencing depression later in life.
- Teens with mental health disorders who also use alcohol are at greater risk for attempting suicide or engaging in other forms of self-harm.
- Studies have found a correlation between engaging in self-harm and alcohol use at an early age.
Alcohol and AnxietyAlcohol use disorder and anxiety are common co-occurring disorders. As with most mental health disorders, alcohol and anxiety have a positive feedback loop. Either problem can make it challenging to get through life’s everyday activities, but together they can leave you feeling debilitated. There are several types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most frequently diagnosed type, but panic disorder and social anxiety disorder must also be considered when discussing anxiety. Triggers for anxiety may include:
- Medication side effects
- Health problems, especially life-threatening or chronic conditions
- Stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines
- Drug or alcohol addiction