Alcohol and Depression: Which Comes First?

Do you drink large amounts of alcohol? Are you feeling down and hopeless? Do you also have difficulty concentrating and remembering? Studies find that there is a strong connection between heavy drinking and depression. Some people may drink to cope with depression, and people who have depression may drink to cope. According to a study, about one-third of people who have depression also abuse alcohol. Other symptoms of depression include:

  • Irritability
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts

Many of these may seem like minor problems that everyone has to handle, but when they affect your daily functioning, they may be signs of depression.

Chicken or the Egg?

Studies show that alcohol abuse is likely to lead to depression. This may be due to the toxic effects that alcohol has on the brain. On the other hand, someone may reach for the bottle to try to relieve depression symptoms. However, alcohol can be deceiving. It may take care of the symptoms temporarily, but because drinking increases the risk for depression, the cycle continues. In addition, studies show that a family history of alcoholism or depression increases the risk for developing either condition.

The Biggest Danger

People who abuse alcohol and have depression are at a greater risk for attempting and following through with suicide. Along with worsening depression, alcohol makes drinkers act on impulse. Alcohol is usually a factor in suicides that involve driving a vehicle or overdosing. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-TALK. You don’t have to live like this. A person who has depression and abuses alcohol should be treated for both conditions. If only one is addressed, he or she may not completely recover. So don’t go halfway with recovery—get treatment for depression and addiction at Lakeview Health.