Alcohol is often used as a crutch for our emotional turmoils. Whether it’s a bad break-up, tough times at work, stressful holidays, or just a bad day, many people choose to have a large glass of red wine, a few too many beers, a trip out to the bar to deal with these feelings.

But at what point does getting a drink after a bad day become an issue? At what point does one beer once and a while become seven on a regular basis?

Another important question is whether this drinking is actually helpful at all. Could binge drinking be making your depression worse? We are going to go over all of the information you need to know about alcohol induced depression so you can start making healthier choices.

What Is Binge Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, binge drinking is defined by having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 g/dL. This usually is the result of having 4-5 servings of alcohol in a relatively short period of time.

This is a bit abstract, so let’s look at some real-life examples of what would constitute binge drinking. College days of taking 2 shots before chugging 3 beers would be one example.

Another example would be coming home after work and downing a six-pack of Buds. Or it could be 4 glasses of wine at a family dinner.

However you get to that point of 4-5 drinks within a short period of time, it is defined as binge drinking.

While this might seem harmless (who hasn’t wanted to get drunk on certain occasions?), there are serious risks to this kind of heavy drinking. These include:

  • Alcohol dependence
  • Increased risk of chronic illnesses (heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, etc)
  • Cancer risk increased
  • Increased risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies
  • Violent behavior
  • Memory issues
  • Depression

Notice that alcohol induced depression and worsening depression is a risk factor of binge drinking. We will come back to this later.

What Is Depression?

Depression is an umbrella term for a number of depressive mental health disorders. Depression is actually one of the most common mental illnesses affecting over 16 million people in the United States every year.

A number of factors can cause someone to be depressed. This could include biological factors, chemical imbalances, personal experiences/situations, social factors, and more.

Some of the major symptoms of depression include:

  • Consistent sadness/feeling down
  • Too much and/or too little sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Low energy

These symptoms are common for each type of depressive mood disorder. These including seasonal depression, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and persistent depressive disorder.

Binge Drinking and Depression

Now that we know what binge drinking and depression are separate, let’s consider how they affect each other.

Alcohol Is a Depressant

Alcohol is a drug categorized as a depressant. This means that alcohol interacts with the chemicals in your body and your brain to “depress” function. It slows things down, lowers your inhibitions, etc.

But long-term and heavy drinking can lead to an alcohol induced depression. Consistent heavy drinking can actually lower the amount of serotonin, the “happiness” chemical, in your brain.

Low serotonin levels are directly linked to depressive disorders.

This phenomenon is especially true if you already have a depressive disorder. Drinking has been shown by multiple scientific studies to make depression worse. So while not everyone will have an alcohol induced depression, alcohol can definitely induce a worsening condition.

Binge Drinking and Depression

It isn’t surprising information, is it? We all know of people who use alcohol to deal with their emotions. It is even portrayed as normal and funny on sitcoms and other forms of media.

But the fact is that using alcohol as a way to self-medicate when you’re sad can and will backfire: alcohol induced depression is real and, unfortunately, seen often in our society.

Just look at this study: researchers looked at rates of binge drinking and depression in college students. They found that rates of both depression and binge drinking are significantly and positively correlated in first-year college students.

It’s no coincidence that when people are heavily binge drinking, their rates of depression also skyrocket.

Effects of Binge Drinking Worsen Depression

Some people drink to get that “buzz,” to lower their inhibitions, and to let loose. Unfortunately, many of these effects are heightened when binge drinking, which can lead to impulsive and bad decisions.

We already mentioned that binge drinking increases your risk of participating in violent behavior, of getting an STD, and worsening chronic illnesses. Combine these effects with impulsive decisions that could cause a car accident, an injury, a loss of your job, or a break-up with your partner, and it is easy to see how binge drinking can result in a worsened depression.

Dual Diagnosis

It’s estimated that one-third of people suffering from a depressive disorder also have an alcohol problem. When somebody has a diagnosis of depression along with a diagnosis of an alcohol problem like binge drinking, it is called a dual diagnosis.

Oftentimes, when people have a dual diagnosis of this nature, it is hard to say which condition appeared first. These two types of disorders are so closely intertwined and they actually feed off of each other.

Alcohol induced depression because of binge drinking is common, but depression can also induce a drinking problem. These two disorders, depression and binge drinking, become a sort of vicious cycle.

You drink because you’re depressed, but the drinking itself makes the depression worse, which leads to more drinking, etc, etc.

How to Deal with Alcohol Induced Depression

If you think that you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol induced depression, there are steps you can take to get out of this vicious cycle.

Rehab

One step that many people take is to find rehab centers near them. Especially if you have a dual diagnosis, rehab is an excellent option. At a rehab center, you can get individual behavioral therapy to help treat your depression while also focusing on getting sober in a safe environment.

Reduce Drinking

If you feel that you can deal with these issues on your own, then your first step would be to significantly cut back on your drinking. If you feel you can properly control yourself, limit yourself to 1 or 2 drinks in a single setting.

However, we know from the information earlier that binge drinkers often develop an alcohol dependence, also called alcoholism. For this reason, it might be hard, or impossible, for you to only drink in moderation.

If this is the case, you should stop drinking altogether. This is easier said than done, which is where rehab centers and groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can be helpful resources.

Adjust Your Drinking Behavior

Alcohol induced depression is often a result of using alcohol as a treatment for when you’re feeling sad or down. This will feed into the vicious cycle of drinking and depression that we talked about earlier.

Try not to drink when you’re feeling sad or have had a bad day. This will only serve to make you feel worse and feed into your depression. If you are going to drink, make sure it is in moderation and not as an emotional crutch.

Maintain a Support System

Both depression and alcohol use disorders can result in feelings of hopelessness and isolation. It’s important to remember that you are not alone.

Maintain your close relationships, whether that’s with a significant other, with family members, or with your friends. This will help you as you struggle with a tough journey of controlling your drinking and treating a depressive disorder.

You can also join support groups that will help keep you on track and give you a great support system of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.

Deal with Your Depression

Controlling your drinking is only half the battle when it comes to alcohol induced depression: you also have to deal with your depressive disorder.

Treating depression, especially when coupled with an alcohol use disorder, is complicated.

Treatment will vary based on the individual and what works best for you.

You’ll probably be advised to stop drinking, which we’ve already gone over.

Therapy is a great method for dealing with a number of different depressive disorders. Therapy will help you discuss any specific factors causing your depression, and therapists will be able to help you adjust your thought patterns and your behaviors.

Binge Drinking and Alcohol Induced Depression: Wrapping Up

Binge drinking might be portrayed as cool and fun, but the fact of the matter is that is can cause significant damage to both your physical and your mental health. Dealing with both your depression and your binge drinking will only serve to make you a healthier and happier individual.

Check out our other articles about maintaining proper health and fitness.

2 Shares:
You May Also Like
Read More

How People with High IQs Think (Practical Examples)

You don’t have to be the Einstein of our generation to be successful. But in some companies and institutions, IQ has a tendency to correlate to qualities they value, hence the kind of people they seek and want to work with. IQ tests directly measure your ability to correctly identify patterns and logic problems under a time limit.

Those skills have a significant correlation to other skills that we value in a 21st century, post-industrial economy. It correlates with the ability learn complex concepts, learn to think critically, learn to identify opportunities etc.

IQ is probably overrated today. We place way to much value on IQ, and take it as being far more meaningful than it is.

These are two practical examples (from Calvin and Raffaele) of how people with high 1Qs think (from a social, intellectual, and practical point of view). How they perceive everyday interactions and situations. They originally shared these experiences on reddit.

1. Calvin Chopra, An inquisitive autodidact

I tested about 4 months back; my IQ was 150. My Myers Briggs Test Type (MBTI) is INTJ and I am 17 years old.

Socially: It is pretty screwed up. I can’t get along with kids in my school or other people around me. Also, it is an INTJ characteristic that people perceive me as arrogant; in fact I am very humble. I tend to be the silent one. I don’t talk much and sometimes I am shy.

I don’t talk to people in my age group, but instead have friends who are older than me. I also don’t believe in small talk; I don’t want people calling me unless it is extremely important and I think a real conversation is better any day.

However, When I am with like-minded people or in a place where I can discuss  ideas, I am good socially and I consider myself to be an ambivert contrary to the MBTI test. I am swift then. Also, I am good at reading people’s expressions and know what they are thinking about, but sometimes I don’t even know that they are listening to me.

I despise smartphones, any and every form of communication. I don’t use my smartphone quite a lot and I might switch to a feature phone. Also, I permanently deleted my facebook account after joining Quora. I don’t keep up with my old buddies.

Intellectually: At an early age, I discovered that I was passionate about robotics and computers. Also I am a voracious reader. I read, think and talk about subjects ranging from Neuroscience to metaphysics.

I am good at school now. I love to be intellectually engaged. I have a hard time doing dull work, but I motivate myself and do work well. As for music, I find solace in classical works of Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and the likes.

The dark side of this intellectual prowess is that I sometimes have to deal with analysis paralysis and I tend to over-plan things. I think and worry a lot, sometimes. Other times I get lost in my imagination; when I am inactive I tend to do thought experiments and try to analyze or build things in my mind.

Creativity: My mind has an inclination towards abstraction; I would study the fundamental nature of something, make assumptions and inferences and would try to build an abstract model. I would then try to use that model. That is why I love robotics.

I love to work on abstract stuff; I would do stuff with Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning and then use these domains to develop robots. Abstraction and Application, I work on these constantly.

Practicality: I was a strong idealist earlier; now I believe that practicality and idealism should go hand in hand. With my idealistic mind, I made many mistakes. I learnt from those mistakes and take my decisions wisely now.

I analyze the situations I am in, anticipate outcomes and know what will be beneficial for me. I do not have the Dunning Kruger effect, I know what I am good at, I know what I am bad at and I know that I don’t know much.

Procrastination: If I don’t have a plan, I will procrastinate, a lot. I need to make a plan a night before. That is the only way I can be productive. I don’t really need to be motivated to do something; having a purpose is enough. The next best thing would be a plan.

Although I don’t follow a plan rigidly but I keep working on things till bed time. I constantly make day logs and edit my plan, and I have a good work ethic. I am a non-conformist and brutally rational. I do not care about what others think about me, but I do not harm them either. If my apathy harms them, then I am in a dilemma.

[Note: Whatever I am or whatever I think, I do not attribute it to my IQ. Whatever I have achieved is by devoting time and effort in order to enhance my skills.

I believe regardless whether your IQ is 100 or 140, you can achieve solely by practicing and improving your skills; a priori intelligence is just because of genes and environment. You can be anything you want.

Also, People cannot be compared; there might be millions of people intelligent than you, millions dumber than you. If you want to get ahead embrace who you are. Be unique, do something only you can and discover your real potential.]

2. Raffaele Tranquillini, 16-year old student, programmer

Sorry for my English, my native language is Italian and actually I am 16 year old, so still learning. Even if I am not 160 or more, I have taken a few reliable IQ tests in the past and obtained scores between 145 and 150 in all. I’ll try to give a detailed answer to this question.

Notice: additional factors may influence this answer. I am an INTP on MBTI personality scale and I’m left handed (I’m not sure, but this may influence)

Childhood: in short, I was a strange child. At the kindergarden I used to look always behind the computers to see how cables were connected; I learnt reading and writing when I was three, and my kindergarten nannies remember me that I was extremely lively (too lively, sincerely), very good at puzzles that were designed for elder children, and that I used to talk always about things like gizmos, mechanical systems, possible projects using windmills and things like that.

In addition, I was not extroverted and not very friendly to my mates and teachers (that I now love for accepting me for how strange I was even when, often, I was completely crazy). At the primary school, the situation was different.

I got bullied very very often both from schoolmates and teachers, that, in a school of the peripheral area of a city, hated me because I was smarter than other children.

They used to put the blame on me for everything that happened in my class, they lied to my parents about things that, for they, I did (they were serious things, so my parents didn’t believe me) because they were just envious, exactly like my classmates.

Now I don’t like children and I hate everything related to the period of primary school, because it remembers me all that bullying of teachers and classmates.

The only positive aspects is that this experience taught me not only to respect everyone and avoid bullying, but to be always as generous and correct as possible with other people in order to avoid they made the same bad experiences.

Social skills: they were quite poor, but in the time with my very analytic behaviour I learned how the “society algorithm” works, and I am in some things even more able than normal people, because I don’t do anything in a spontaneous way in social occasions, and instead I know how to simulate well an emotion or another. However, there are still many points where this “algorithm” I learned doesn’t work, and that translates in social difficulties.

Everyday life: the main difference is that I see patterns everywhere. Patterns and algorithms. In addition, I am usually really fast in thinking logically, and when I speak I usually try in my head in 1/10 of second 4-5 different sentences and choose the best one (something not the best for that situation, though).

Then often I figure out many different solutions in a very short time to a problem, including the solution that I think will be the wrong one but the one that the others will choose, and I can’t explain the right one.

Often people tell me that my solution is wrong and I am stubborn, but I know it is correct, and after hours they will notice I was right. In addition, I always talk very very fast to keep up with my thoughts.

Other aspects of social life: I often feel alone among the people. I am between them, but I feel separated by a wall that isolates me on a place that is just physically near the people around me. They don’t understand me. They misunderstand me (in a bad way).

I feel as I had some sort of veil that doesn’t let me interact with them. And nobody believes me if I try to explain that. (This is one of the the many symptoms of Asperger’s I have… But I’m almost sure it’s also the IQ)

Interests: my mind is very good in some directions and very wrak in others. For instance, I am not good at maths (high school maths is IMO boring and I don’t want to study it) except for the very small part of it involving logical thinking.

I am very good at writing, but my main, obsessive hobby is programming. I love it, and I am programmer since I was 8. I love it because it’s good to use my logic. I’ve always been very bad at sport. Especially, I have never had coordination. I love quiet places, and I need to walk alone in quiet places for some kilometers every day to relax.

Let's block ads! (Why?)