Alcohol and Depression Research Institute on Addictions

Depression is a mental health condition that involves continually experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness. This can affect many aspects of life, including professional responsibilities, personal goals and relationships with family members and friends. Many studies have found that alcohol dependence is closely linked to depression. When it comes to diagnosing an alcohol use disorder and a major depressive disorder, it’s important to address them simultaneously, as they can significantly impact your recovery. If you’re already depressed, irritated, or anxious, alcohol can worsen these feelings.

Ways to Destress After Work

This co-occurring disorder isn’t uncommon, but it can be difficult to treat. This article outlines the connection between alcohol and depression, how the two disorders align, identifies treatment options, and ways to cope. Research has repetitively demonstrated that including daily mindfulness in one’s life can help with treating a wide array of health conditions, including depression and alcohol use. Meditating minutes a day can play a pivotal role in helping the brain make lasting changes to improve mental stability. It is highly recommended for those struggling with depressive symptoms and/or alcohol use disorder to begin each day with mindfulness exercises.

Alcohol consumption and alcohol related problems

Second, the possibility that a longer term anxiety or depressive disorder exists in an alcoholic must always be considered. Fortunately, several important ongoing studies will help answer some remaining questions regarding the treatment of coexisting depressive or anxiety disorders in the context of alcoholism. The COGA investigation will gather more data regarding potential alcoholic subtypes and will continue to explore possible genetic linkages between alcohol dependence and major depressive and major anxiety disorders.

alcohol and depression

When alcohol is ingested, the primary result is the body being unable to perform its responsibilities. This can be seen during periods of intoxication, when speech, walking, thinking, and many other functions are heavily affected. From a neurocognitive standpoint, alcohol significantly impacts many of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that oversee our emotional well-being.

Treatment for Depression and AUD

When alcohol hits the brain, it triggers a number of changes, including the release of the body’s feel-good chemicals. This is why, at first, alcohol can make our brain experience relief from distress. But “the rebound effect is that it can actually exacerbate” negative emotional states, says Amy Goodwin, an addiction counselor at UCHealth in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Then people “fall into a kind of loop” of drinking and depression, and the two conditions feed off each other. Treatment providers are available 24/7 to answer your questions about rehab, whether it’s for you or a loved one.

alcohol and depression

A recent review revealed similar results from other studies (Schuckit and Hesselbrock 1994). For example, a 10-year followup of young men and women who originally had been studied during their mid-teens by Ensminger and colleagues1 showed no close association between preexisting anxiety symptoms and AOD-use patterns in either sex. Similarly, in a study by Kammeier and colleagues,1 there was little evidence that preexisting psychiatric symptoms measured by a standard personality test predicted later alcoholism. Also, an 18-year followup of 80 children who had experienced severe depressive episodes earlier in life revealed no evidence of an increased risk for alcoholism during the followup period (Harrington et al. 1990). Finally, Schuckit’s research group followed 239 alcoholic men 1 year after they received alcoholism treatment, and the data revealed no significantly increased rates of major depressive or anxiety disorders (Schuckit and Hesselbrock 1994). It is possible, however, that some of these studies might have excluded subjects with more severe anxiety or depressive disorders from the original samples, and consequently more work in this area is required (Kushner 1996).