Alcohol and Mental Health

There are evidences that point out a connection between moderated drinking and improved health conditions for adults. But there more evidences that show a negative side effect of alcohol abuse which affects our physical health and mental well-being.

Connection between mental health and alcohol abuse

If a person drinks less than seven units of alcohol in one week, it was observed that it can help improve emotional, physical and mental health among adults. But alcohol abuse or having too much to drink can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health.

Mental illnesses do not always result to drinking in excess but in some cases, a person with mental illness can cause that person to drink alcohol too much.

Most people drink to alter their moods or their mental state. Alcohol can ease a person's feelings of depression and anxiety but only temporarily. Alcohol can do this because it can change the chemistry of the brain to alleviate the negative feelings. Because of this alcohol was even shown to help improve some of the more serious mental health problems aside from depression and anxiety.

Self-medication can be used as a term by medical experts to refer to a person when he drinks alcohol to deal with hardships. Drinking in moderation can help but drinking in excess will only worsen the problems.

Studies have shown that people who drink too much or had high levels of alcohol were more vulnerable to developing more serious types of mental illness. Some experts even suggest that alcohol abuse can be one of the factors to consider that cause the onset of mental problems. The World Health Organization (WHO) has sufficient evidence to suggest that alcohol is a major contributing factor in the onset of depression.

Patients who have serious mental health issues have been found to have alcohol abuse problems as well. These patients have a higher probability of developing these two complications than anyone else. But this, however, does not indicate that alcohol alone causes severe mental problems but alcohol abuse can be linked more closely to 'self-medication'.

Alcohol alters mood and affects the mental health

Alcohol in the blood can alter our moods, behaviour and mental state. The change and the severity of the changes depend largely on the amount and how fast the alcohol was consumed. Alcohol affects the nervous system by depressing it, meaning it tends to make the body show uninhibited behaviour and movements. We can feel a numbing sensation whenever we are drunk and this sensation is the main reason why most problematic people feel their problem seem to go away.

Alcohol can reveal or intensify the underlying feelings we have. This is the reason why people who drink become aggressive or angry when they become intoxicated. If there are underlying feelings of anger, anxiety or worthlessness, then drinking alcohol will exacerbate them.

After-effects of alcohol drinking

A primary problem with alcohol abuse is dealing with depression and anxiety as after effects. These two feelings can aggravate the negative feelings more so the person will feel even worse than before. Alcohol affects the neurotransmitters as these chemicals in the brain are lessened. The brain then, wards off depression and anxiety naturally so person will feel worse when the effects of alcohol wears off. A vicious cycle will develop because once the alcohol wears off, some people would result to drinking again to alleviate their worsened mental states.

Amount of moderated drinking

There is such a term as 'sensible drinking' as assessed by the government. This limits the alcohol consumption to 3 to 4 alcohol of units in a day for men while 2 to 3 alcohol units for women. The following table further explains what alcohol unit really means:

Beer, lager and cider

One pint of beer or normal strength ale
(examples are John Smith's, Guinness, Boddingtons)
2.3 units
One pint of 4% normal strength lager
(examples are Fosters and Carling Black Label)
2.3 units
One pint of hard lager
(examples are Kronenbourg 1664, Stella Artois)
3 units
One 440ml bottle of hard lager
(examples are Stella Artois, Grolsch, Carlsberg Export)
2.2 units
One pint of normal strength cider
(examples are Strongbow, Dry Blackthorn)
3 units

Wine

An ordinary 175ml glass of white or red wine Approximately 2 units
One big 250ml glass of white or red wine Approximately 3 units

Alcopops and spirits

One small 25ml of spirits 1 unit
One large 35ml of spirits 1.4 units
One double measure for spirits 2 units
One 275ml bottle of alcopop
(examples are Bacardi Breezer,Smirnoff Ice, Reef, WKD)
1.5 units

Alternative methods for coping up with depression and other symptoms for mental illness

There are a number of ways in which a person can improve and take care of his mental health efficiently. If a person suspects that he has symptoms of a mental illness, he should consult a doctor immediately.

Other alternative ways to cope up with mental illness: