COVID-19 and Substance Use National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA

Treating one of these conditions may improve symptoms for both. However, for the best results, your doctor will likely treat them together. Likewise, if you’re diagnosed with one of these conditions, your doctor may ask about symptoms of the other. This is a common part of diagnosis because both so frequently occur together. Bipolar depression is tough, and self-medicating with alcohol is common.

does alcohol make depression worse

Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. It can get worse over time, especially when combined with regular or heavy alcohol use. These blues usually don’t linger, though, so you’ll probably feel better in a day or so. Taking some time for productive relaxation can also help ease feelings of depression.

Not Getting Enough Sleep Linked To Anxiety and Depression

Specifically, a growing body of research supports the use of motivational interventions for addressing substance use problems among patients with comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders. Psychiatric treatment attendance is strongly related to clinical outcomes (e.g., Green & Pope, 2000). Medical practitioners have discovered that to truly be effective in treating these conditions, they must be treated simultaneously. Treating depression alone does not stop alcohol use from occurring when an alcohol use disorder has developed. Just as treating an alcohol use disorder without treating depression does not typically result in successful outcomes. Abusing alcohol while living with mental health conditions is incredibly dangerous.

This makes individuals feel temporarily relaxed and carefree. But drinking too much over stimulates GABA, causing drowsiness, blackouts, memory loss, unconsciousness, and in some cases, coma. At the same time, alcohol suppresses the release of glutamate, which makes individuals feel lethargic and fatigued. Many people living with depression drink alcohol to try to numb their symptoms. For a short period of time, many of them feel some sort of relief. But after a while, alcohol can make them feel drowsy, lightheaded, nauseated, irritable, and foggy-brained instead, leaving them confused and even more depressed.

Alcohol and Depression: The Link Between Alcoholism and Depression

The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings, such as anger, depression or anxiety, regardless of your mood. When alcohol is used, these chemical balances are significantly impacted, which may result in poor decision-making. When this occurs infrequently, the risks are relatively low for long-term conditions to develop. However, when chronic alcohol misuse occurs, the risk grows exponentially and will eventually result in potentially permanent disruption of one’s neurotransmitter balance. This has frequently resulted in depressive symptoms developing or growing in severity. Sometimes people drink alcohol to help with the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

While alcohol does not interact with every prescription drug, in many cases, it can worsen existing side effects or cause additional, independent side effects. It's also used along with other medications to treat stomach ulcers caused by the bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). However, amoxicillin can only be used by adults to treat stomach ulcers. According to one study, more than 40% of adults had taken medication in the previous year that could interact with alcohol. But in animal studies, alcohol use has been shown to cause either a decrease in thyroid hormones or no notable changes in their levels. Managing this condition typically requires a combination of medication and dietary and lifestyle changes.


But for some people, these feelings don’t go away – they get worse and their feelings of depression can start to interfere with everyday life. Recent research indicates that physical exercise can be just as effective if not potentially more effective in treating depression than antidepressants in some cases. Exercising for just five minutes made a positive impact, regardless of the intensity. Walking, running, jogging, and even gardening can help reduce the severity of depressive symptoms. There are many different classifications of depressive disorders as symptoms can manifest in many ways, leading to different diagnoses and treatment options. Often people also experience difficulty in paying attention, and a general lack of motivation and energy, sometimes characterized by a “who cares” attitude.

  • Individuals with alcohol use disorder may drink too much alcohol, too often.
  • He is professor of medicine and community health at Brown University Medical School and director of the Substance Abuse Research Unit at Rhode Island Hospital.
  • Women with depression are also more likely to engage in binge drinking.
  • “Over half of those who develop a substance abuse disorder may be genetically vulnerable,” says Dr. Anand.
  • It is important to note that medications for alcohol use disorder are a first-line treatment.
  • As time passes, the brain adapts to the excess dopamine and serotonin and starts to produce fewer neurotransmitters.

At first, alcohol boosts the levels of “excitatory” neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. This is what makes individuals feel happy, excited, courageous, and energetic when they first start drinking. If you drink heavily on a regular basis, however, the depressive effects of alcohol may become a part of your daily life. Alcohol withdrawal leads to decreases in dopamine function.11 If you’re in recovery, and depression is a drinking trigger for you, this can make things especially difficult.