Frequent questions about alcoholism and depression:
What is the relationship between alcoholism and depression?
Alcoholism and depression are two “complementary” disorders. This means that they “feed” off each other, deepen and prolong one another.
Both alcoholism and depression are big problems that can cause a lot of hardships and pain to an afflicted person. However, together they are much more powerful and potentially devastating.
In order to understand the relationship between alcoholism and depression first you need to know what alcoholism and depression are.
Alcoholism is characterized by compulsive drinking. Consumption of alcohol to such a great degree, that it produces mental disturbance and interferes with social and occupational functioning. Alcoholism represents a chronic dependence on alcoholic beverages and it is also known as alcohol addiction.
Depression is an emotional state of persistent mood change ranging from relatively mild gloominess to extreme despair, hopelessness and worthlessness.
These feelings are in most cases accompanied by insomnia, appetite change, chronic or unexplained pain, irritability, difficulty concentrating etc.
Alcoholics destroy their brains with a substance that has toxic effects on human body and brain when taken in large quantity. That substance is called alcohol and it is responsible for many broken relationships, failed marriages, abused children, abused wives, lost jobs, suicides, homicides and many other painful things that unfortunately surround us.
There are special parts of our brain that are responsible for emotions, control and intelligence. When under the influence the communication between brain cells in these regions as well as in the entire brain is slow, poor and sometimes even blocked. This is why people that are under the influence of alcohol have poor self-control and can get aggressive and overemotional.
Alcoholics literally damage their brains including the centers for emotions, control, intelligence and many others. This is why they always end up being depressed along with having the hallucinations, anxiety attacks etc. Alcohol destroys brain cells and causes disorders such as depression, dementia and many others.
The relationship between alcoholism and depression exists and it is very strong. Aside from physically (physiologically) damaging their brains alcoholics also have problems in keeping the relationships, having a functional marriages, maintaining work success, finding a job, having friends etc. All these factors deepen and prolong depression.
As you can see the relationship between alcoholism and depression is deep and it has many layers (physical, physiological and psychological). This is why this relationship must be taken seriously and it should never be underestimated.
Can alcoholism cause depression?
Alcoholism can cause depression and vice versa, depression can cause alcoholism. Statistics show that majority of men first become alcoholics and than get depressed whereas majority of women first get depressed and than start abusing alcohol and eventually end up being alcoholics.
Unfortunately many men and women try to self-medicate with alcohol which is the last thing they should be doing because alcohol is a depressant. This means that a depressed person will end up being even more depressed if she or he drinks alcohol.
Alcohol is never an answer to any problem especially to depression. Alcohol makes you even more vulnerable to depression and many other mental and physical disorders. Whenever you are tempted to reach for alcohol remember that alcohol is not your friend against depression but one of your major enemies.
What is the best treatment for alcoholism and depression?
The best way to treat alcoholism and depression is to treat each disorder separately but simultaneously. This means that alcoholism needs to be addressed in alcohol counseling and that depression needs to be treated in psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy alone or with antidepressants is the best treatment for depression. There are many types of psychotherapies and they are all successful in treating depression even though some types of psychotherapies are believed to have more success that other (e.g. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy etc).
One important thing to emphasize is that alcoholism and depression must be treated simultaneously, in order for a patient to get better and eventually be cured. One must stop drinking alcohol if he wants to free himself from depression.