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How Alcohol Affects Mental Health

May 27, 2023

If you have been experiencing changes to your mental health following periods of drinking, it’s important to understand how alcohol affects mental health and the impact it can have on your well-being. Drinking moderate amounts regularly or drinking excessively at any time can cause significant changes to your mental health. Let’s introduce some ways alcohol heightens your risk of developing new mental health concerns and can even worsen existing symptoms.

Regularly consuming moderate or excessive amounts of alcohol affects mental health in a variety of ways. Regular alcohol consumption raises the risk of developing depression or anxiety. Alcohol can cause mood swings and unpleasant emotions by disrupting the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Co-occurring (formerly called dual diagnosis) treatment is recommended for individuals whose mental health is making recovery more difficult or whose substance use is worsening their mental health. Origins Recovery Center in Texas provides gender-specific programming for men who need healing from both addiction and co-occurring depression, anxiety, trauma or other mental health concerns.

How Alcohol Affects Existing Mental Health Disorders

Excessive drinking can have a negative impact on depression, anxiety, and trauma in a variety of ways. While you may feel alcohol provides an escape from emotional pain, it might worsen symptoms and make recovery more difficult. Excessive drinking can lead to more severe depression symptoms through altered brain chemistry. It can contribute to an increase in anxiety and panic attacks. While you may be using alcohol as a coping mechanism for trauma, it can also increase feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation. You may have already experienced how drinking can intensify PTSD symptoms, such as intrusive thoughts and nightmares. It can interfere with any strategies you’re relying on to cope with symptoms of trauma. Moderate to excessive drinking also can raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts to take your life.

How Alcohol Increases Risk of New Mental Health Issues

Having no history of mental health disorders does not mean you won’t develop one in the midst of drinking regularly and heavily. Long-term binge drinking and heavy drinking can affect the chemistry and structure of the brain dramatically. It has the potential to cause brain shrinkage and a shortage in the fibers (white matter) that transmit information between brain cells (gray matter). This can result in irreparable brain damage, resulting in cognitive deficiencies such as memory loss, learning difficulties, dementia, and severely decreased mental functioning. These changes can be followed by the onset of depression and anxiety. Depression symptoms may show up as feeling sad, worthless, and hopeless. Symptoms of anxiety can look like worry, nervousness, and restlessness. People around you may notice changes in your behavior, including mood swings, impulsive moments, and risk-taking behavior.

Recognizing Co-Occurring Needs

Excessive alcohol use may result in a variety of mental health problems, including mood disorders, psychosis, sleep disorders, and trauma- and stress-related conditions. Individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder are frequently diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health problem. It may be a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, or other mental health concern. These two separate issues merge as one and create more serious circumstances for the other. Drinking can worsen the symptoms of mental health, and unmet mental health needs can make it more challenging for you to start and sustain addiction treatment and avoid relapsing.

Co-Occurring Treatment at Origins Recovery Center

At Origins Recovery Center, we provide co-occurring treatment that addresses both substance use disorders and mental health disorders simultaneously. It’s a comprehensive and integrated approach that recognizes the connection between these disorders and establishes treatment goals for both. With a thorough assessment, we can customize a treatment plan that matches your specific needs. We can equip you with tools for long-term recovery by identifying your underlying issues, whether from trauma, family history, stress, or something else. Co-occurring diagnosis treatment integrates evidence-based therapies for both substance use and mental health disorders, and it consists of individual and group therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and holistic therapies such as yoga or meditation. Developing coping skills and creating a support network are among the ways we help people like you prevent relapse. In addition, co-occurring diagnosis treatment provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment that acknowledges the difficulties of living with both substance use and mental health disorders. This can be an important part of a successful recovery.

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1019.

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