While the jury is still out when it comes to the exact relationship between alcohol and depression, there’s no mistaking that the two often are present at the same time. While the common wisdom has often asserted that alcoholism causes depression, or vice versa, recent studies have cast doubt on any causal relationship between depression and alcoholism. Everyone has heard of “drowning your sorrows,” and many people turn to alcohol when they’re feeling stressed, worried, lonely, hopeless, or just feeling blue. While the relaxing effects of alcohol often provide temporary relief from anxiety, worry, and other negative feelings, the cumulative effect of alcohol is to act as a “downer,” which means that in the long term, alcohol and depression do not combine well.
Alcoholics Are More Likely to Have Depression
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly one in every three people with major depression also has an alcohol problem. New data has also revealed that some people who have been diagnosed with depression may in fact be experiencing “substance-induced depression,” in which depressive episodes occur only when the individual has been drinking heavily. While the symptoms are similar, “substance-induced depression” has a different prognosis and is treated differently, and symptoms will often cease when the individual quits drinking.
Regardless of the ultimate relationship between depression and problems with alcohol, it’s true that one can certainly exacerbate the other. Alcohol abuse can lead to financial trouble, increased job stress, and put a strain on relationships. Furthermore, individuals who suffer from depression and alcoholism are at a much higher risk for suicide. And because chronic alcohol use can result in a lowered mood and also in impaired judgment, it’s often seen as a key ingredient in suicidal behavior or suicide attempts. Among people who have attempted suicide, depression and alcohol abuse are the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders, and alcoholism is one of the most frequently-cited issues associated with suicide attempts.
Alcohol Fuels Depression and Vice-a-Versa
The connection between alcohol and depression is one that bears further scrutiny, but in the meantime, those who suffer from depression or alcoholism—or both in conjunction—can benefit from focused counseling and non-12-step rehab that can help them to find balance and order in their lives.
We recognize that most addictions are accompanied by co-occurring psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other conditions. Our non-12-step rehab program treats the whole individual, not just the addiction, to ensure that patients get the best results possible, and to set them on the path to regaining control of their life.