Millions of American struggle with alcohol use disorder. However, few understand the complicated relationship between alcohol abuse and the mental health conditions that so often underpin and fuel addiction. Primary among these is depression, and whether diagnosed or not, many individuals struggling with alcohol addiction unknowingly attempt to self-medicate their depression with alcohol.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing alcohol addiction, they may need more than just rehab; they may need dual-diagnosis treatment in a specialized addiction treatment program like the one at New Bridge Foundation®. With over 50 years of experience, New Bridge Foundation® has been named one of America’s “Best Addiction Treatment Centers” for the past three years, per a survey conducted by Newsweek Magazine. Reach out to our affordable, alcohol rehab in Berkeley, CA at 866.772.8491 to learn more.
The Link Between Alcohol and Depression
In the short term, drinking can appear to offer an escape from anxiety and sadness; however, in reality, it is a band-aid on a much deeper wound. Over time, alcohol use lowers serotonin levels and increases inflammation within the brain, creating a long-term and self-perpetuating cycle of depression.
Prolonged alcohol abuse can have severe effects on mental health, including the following:
- Damage to the parts of the brain responsible for emotion and behavior regulation
- Increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders
- Impaired judgment and decision making
- A tendency towards aggressive behavior
- Difficulty with communication and problem-solving
- Memory problems
- Cognitive decline over time
- Trouble maintaining healthy relationships
For these and many other reasons, the importance of getting professional treatment for alcohol use disorder cannot be overstated, especially when it appears alongside depression.
Am I Addicted to Alcohol?
If you are unsure if your recreational alcohol use has crossed the line into alcohol abuse, there are many telltale signs and symptoms to watch out for. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Drinking more or for more extended periods than intended
- Feeling the need to drink in order to relax or have a good time
- Finding yourself unable to stop drinking once you start
- Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- Neglecting responsibilities due to alcohol consumption
- Continually using alcohol despite its consequences on your life and relationships
- Prioritizing getting alcohol over other activities and obligations
If you recognize these signs in yourself or someone close to you, the time to seek professional addiction treatment is now.
Avoiding Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: Alternative Ways to Manage Depression
If you or someone close to you is experiencing alcohol and depression, it’s important to find alternative solutions for managing the depression. These can include counseling sessions, participation in a 12-step program like AA, making lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet adjustments, engaging in creative activities like art or music, and quitting drinking.
Other healthy ways to manage stress and depression may include:
- Developing a regular exercise routine
- Practicing yoga or meditation
- Working with a therapist or counselor to change negative thought patterns
- Getting support from friends and family
- Taking time for yourself each day
These solutions can also be used as proactive measures for managing mental health before the symptoms become too severe to ignore. If you are currently in an episode of depression and find yourself relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, reach out to an alcohol addiction treatment program like the one at New Bridge Foundation®.
Learn More About Alcohol and Depression at New Bridge Foundation®
If you or someone close to you is struggling with alcohol abuse, seek professional help. To learn more about New Bridge Foundation®’s addiction treatment programs and reach out today at 866.772.8491 or contact us online. With the right support and guidance, recovery is possible. Let us help you take that first step today.