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Alcohol and Mental Health

Mental health problems not only result from drinking too much alcohol. They can also compel individuals to drink too much.

There is some evidence linking light alcohol consumption with improved physical health in some adults. Between 1 and 3 drinks daily have been found to help protect against heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease, and a small glass of red wine everyday may diminish risk of stroke in females.

That being said there is far more proof demonstrating that drinking too much alcohol results in serious bodily and mental diseases.

Stated very simply, a major reason for drinking alcohol is to change our mood - or change our mental state. Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression; it can even help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems.

Alcohol problems are more common among people with more severe mental health issues. This does not necessarily mean that alcohol provokes severe mental illness.

Evidence indicates that people who consume high amounts of alcohol are vulnerable to higher levels of mental ill health and it can be a contributory factor in some mental illnesses, such as depression.

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How does drinking affect our moods and mental health?

When we have alcohol in our blood, our mood changes, and our behaviour then also changes. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour.

Alcohol can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people become aggressive or angry when drinking. Anger or unhappiness, then alcohol can magnify them if our underlying feelings are of anxiety.

What about the after-effects?

One of the main issues associated with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that people may feel much worse when the effects have worn off. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression. This can lead some people to drink more, to ward off these difficult feelings, and a dangerous cycle of dependence can develop.

Alcohol problems are more common among individuals with more severe mental health conditions. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, unhappiness or anger, then alcohol can magnify them.

One of the main issues associated with using alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression is that individuals may feel much worse when the effects have worn off. Alcohol is thought to use up and reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the brain needs a certain level of neurotransmitters needs to ward off anxiety and depression.