PSYCHOLOGICAL DYSFUNCTIONS AND ALCOHOL USE

Mental health issues not only result from consuming too much alcohol. They can also provoke individuals to drink too much.

There is some evidence linking light drinking with better overall health in some adults. Between one and three drinks on a daily basis have been found to help protect us from heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a little glass of red wine daily may decrease risk of stroke in women. There is far more evidence indicating that drinking excessive alcohol results in significant physical 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 even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems. Alcohol problems are more common among individuals with more severe mental health problems. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol causes severe mental illness. Evidence demonstrates that individuals 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. This is one of the reasons that many individuals become angry or aggressive when drinking. Anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them if our underlying feelings are of anxiety. What about the after-effects?

One of the main issues connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people 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. This can lead some individuals to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol problems are more common among people with more severe mental health issues. If our underlying feelings are of anger, unhappiness or anxiety, then alcohol can magnify them. One of the main problems connected with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people 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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