February 20, 2023 Alcohol

Link Between Alcohol and Depression Explained
Link between alcohol and depression explained: Alcohol and depression have a direct relationship and amplify the effects of one another.

Depression and alcohol use disorder (AUD) may coexist. In addition, if not treated, one can exacerbate the other in a vicious and harmful cycle. Alcohol consumption can make mood disorder symptoms worse, and alcohol misuse may result from depression.

The good news is that both depression and alcohol abuse can improve with treatment. But the process isn’t simple. It’s a lifetime pledge but can enhance your quality of life.

Key Takeaways

Alcohol is unsafe for most people. Adverse effects of alcohol include feelings of depression. Despite that, people use it in social situations for pleasure. Its excessive use requires effective treatment plans. Rehab centers may help you in this regard.

The blog post will cover the following:

  • Depression is a persistent extension of feelings of sadness and anxiety.
  • Significant types of depression include seasonal affective disorder (SAD), psychotic depression, and major depression.
  • Alcohol and depression have a direct relationship and amplify the effects of one another.
  • Treatment plans may include detox, medications, and therapy sessions.

If you have developed depression due to alcohol, visit Indiana Center for Recovery. Call now for more: (844) 650-0064

What is Depression?

Everybody feels brief periods of sadness. People describe such feelings as “depression.” But having rare ups and downs due to issues with daily life is not severe depression. Depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and others, are curable.

Such conditions occur due to the sensations of:

  • Sadness
  • Emptiness
  • Irritability

There are many risk factors for depressive disorders. Anyone can develop them. They can contribute to creating a depressive disorder. But not everyone who feels them will set it.

These risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Heritability
  • Biological factors
  • Mental illness
  • Stress
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Taking certain drugs
  • Low status

Common triggers include:

  • Physical health issues
  • Family issues
  • Divorce and grief
  • Work issues

Alcohol use can also add to it. Drinking can worsen your signs if you’re already sad. Mild to severe depressive symptoms can be present.

But most people with depression can fully recover with care. Physical symptoms of depression are also possible. But, each person will feel them differently.

The next are warning signs to watch out for:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Lack of drive in life
  • Suicide feelings
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight change
  • Loss of energy
  • Issues with sleep

Types of Depression

People with alcoholism may also develop several types of depression. It can quickly take over your life, even if certain kinds are less severe than others.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Change in seasons results in SAD. Its signs appear in the fall and worsen during the winter. Low light during the winter brings “winter blues.” The negative feelings turn into positive attitudes over the spring and summer.

SAD signs must have been present for at least the previous two years to receive a diagnosis.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is a severe form of depression. It involves paranoia or delusions. People with this kind of depression may hear voices or think someone is trying to harm them.

Drinking from psychotic depression can harm your health and those around you. Alcohol doesn’t make you feel more at ease. It makes the signs of psychotic depression worse. When under the effect of alcohol, your paranoia worsens. It may lead to mania and suicidal thoughts.

Major Depression

Major depression occurs when depressive signs like a sense of loss interfere with your routine. A major depressive episode happens to about 20-25 percent of American adults at some point.

Mental health impacts your physical health, including the ability to sleep, eat, and think.

With major depression, you should stay away from alcohol. Drinking can worsen the signs, which can have costs. It is so because alcohol affects the same brain regions involved in mood regulation.

Alcohol and Depression

Depressive disorders AUD may coexist. Each condition raises the risk for the other, and each disease can worsen the other. It suggests that there may be a bidirectional interaction between the two.

Whether AUD or a depressive disorder developed earlier, they are among the most common mental illnesses and frequently co-occur.

Depression is a part of mental health problems. It may result in emotions such as despair.

People lose interest in hobbies and social settings. They could find it hard to finish their daily duties. Depression affects more than 300 million people globally.

Alcohol use can lead to alcohol dependence. Once you start drinking, you could find it difficult to stop. Thirty percent of people in the US suffer from alcohol addiction. They use alcohol as a way of self-medication. Alcohol’s “burst” of energy can relieve some signs.

For example, drinking may reduce anxiety.

On the other hand, individuals who drink regularly are likely to feel depressed. It could worsen with excessive drinking, which might encourage heavy drinking.

Alcohol as a treatment option is common among those with mental health issues. Many study papers indicate that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol abuse are dominant in veterans of the armed forces.

According to a study, major depression and AUD are co-dependent in women. Additionally, women who suffer from depression are more likely to binge drink.

Depression and alcohol abuse are both risk factors for past trauma. According to one study, children who feel major depression as children are more likely to start drinking young.

The growth of co-occurring AUD and depressive disorder is complex. Some people might be genetically prone to both. Others may have depressive signs, impacting the rise of an AUD.

People’s tendency to use alcohol to treat depression could be one factor in cooccurrence. People who have severe signs may begin to depend on alcohol. They aim to lessen their symptoms and feel better. But it can turn into an AUD.

Self-medication may not be beneficial in the long term.

Alcohol Makes Depression Worse

Alcohol can make depression and its signs worse. It can delay recovery from depression. Even a mild amount of alcohol seems to worsen depression. Heavy drinkers show worse outcomes from depression treatment.

AUD may be more common than it is in the general population in people who have depression. The scenario is worse, and its severity worsens when it co-occurs with an AUD.

Risk Factors for Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder

Which comes first, AUD or depression, is unclear. Each person’s experience varies. But, having one condition raises the risk of developing the other.

For instance, a person who feels depressed regularly can drink to self-medicate. It might make alcohol abuse worse. People who drink frequently are more prone to have depressive episodes. They may drink more to try to feel better.

The following are some factors that could support either one or both of these conditions:


A high risk for those with a family history of either issue may exist. According to research, genetic predisposition may surge your risk of developing an AUD or depression.


Some experts believe that either illness may be prone to manifest in those with a “negative” attitude toward life. Similarly, those with low self-esteem may be prone to developing depression or AUD.

Personal History

Abuse, trauma, and other issues may raise your risk of depression or AUD.

Treatment Options

The signs of one may improve if you treat the other one. Your doctor will likely treat them together to get the ideal results.

The following are helpful options for depression and AUD.


It is the initial stage of recovery, followed by enrollment in an official drug rehab program. You can stop drinking with the aid of detox.


Alcohol can harm the neurotransmitter levels of your brain. Antidepressants can help balance these chemical levels and ease depression signs.

Your doctor can prescribe drugs to lessen alcohol cravings. The drugs can decrease your desire to consume alcohol.

Doctors may prescribe:

  • Naltrexone, which helps people quit drinking
  • Disulfiram, which acts as an alcohol deterrent
  • Acamprosate, which aids in abstinence from alcohol


People with AUD develop alcohol dependence. Sudden quitting can result in withdrawal signs. It can be severe and even fatal. Doctors advise patients to enter a rehab center. The clinics can support a patient while they undergo detox.

You could also get counseling to deal with your anxiety. You can pick up coping skills in therapy that will aid you in living soberly again.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you learn practical coping skills to replace thoughts and behavioral patterns worsening AUD and depression.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps reduce self-harm and suicidal behavior.
  • Behavioral Activation (BA) is a behavioral therapy that is helpful for both AUD and depression. It involves knowing how adverse life behaviors influence your mood. It helps you take an active approach to boost positive life skills.

Support Groups

Classes and meetings are part of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) movement. You can get help from people who are in a similar state. Regular affirmation you’re making to maintain your health and sobriety is another option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is there a relationship between alcohol and depression?

Alcohol abuse is the root cause of many health issues. Depression is one example of this. People who binge drink are more prone to feel depressive signs—people with hangovers are at the most risk.
Consuming more than eight drinks in a single session for men or six for women is binge drinking. Aside from increasing your risk of accidents and injuries, it can also lead to other health issues, including alcohol poisoning.
Consult your doctor to know more about the relationship between alcohol and depression.

How does alcohol affect your mental health?

Alcohol is a depressant, which can alter your mood by disturbing your brain’s working. You may feel relaxation and reduced anxiety after drinking. It is because it impacts the area of your brain that regulates inhibition.
But, these results go away shortly. Your brain’s chemical changes may soon cause you to feel negative emotions. Alcohol slows down data processing in the brain. It makes it difficult to fix your true feelings.
Alcohol cuts the number of neurotransmitters in our brains. But, we need a specific amount to prevent anxiety. You would need to drink more to cope with these distressing emotions.

How long does alcohol-induced depression last?

The length of an alcohol-induced depressive episode varies from person to person. You may improve your signs if you don’t drink for a specific time. Some people may use other ways to get the same results. But, in most cases, the answer is usually 3–4 weeks.
Some research has shown that if the signs of depression persist after stopping drug or alcohol use, depression may take a severe form. Visiting a rehab center can help you in such a situation.

Can alcohol cause severe depression?

Alcohol is a depressant. If you drink frequently, it can start a depressive cycle. The majority of the time, binge drinking results from an underlying problem. As a result, you may develop clinical depression.
When you drink, you can make decisions you wouldn’t typically make. You’ll later come to regret, leading to despair. A cycle of depression might be triggered by simply realizing that you are not in control of yourself.
Alcohol hangovers can provide a highly depressed, ill, and depressing feeling.