Alcohol and Depression
What is the connection between depression and alcohol?
It is known that there is a connection – self-harm and suicide are much commoner in people with alcohol problems. It seems that it can work in two ways: you regularly drink too much including (including “binge drinking”) which makes you feel depressed, or you drink to relieve anxiety or depression (11).
Either way: Alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain, increasing the risk of depression. Hangovers can create a cycle of waking up feeling ill, anxious, jittery and guilty. Life gets depressing – arguments with family or friends, trouble at work, memory and sexual problems (11).
How much alcohol is too much?
Some drinks are stronger than others. The easiest way to work out how much you are drinking is to count the “units” of alcohol in your drinks. 1 unit is 8 grams /10 mls of pure alcohol - the amount in a standard 25 ml measure of spirits, a half pint of 3.6% beer or lager, or a 100 ml glass of 10% wine (see table below). If a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will end up with a much higher amount in the organs of her body. So the safe limit is lower for women (14 units per week) than for men (21 units per week) (11).
The published weekly safe limits assume that you spread your drinking out evenly over every 7 days. This may not be the case – you drink a lot on one night, but still remain within your “safe” limit if you don’t drink for the rest of the week. There is now evidence that even a couple of days of heavy drinking can start to kill off brain cells, as happens with people who drink continuously.
* Drinking over 8 units in a day for men, or 6 units for women is known as binge drinking.
* In any one day it is best for a man to drink no more than 3-4 units and for a woman to drink no more than 2-3 units.
Binge drinking also seems to be connected with an increased risk of early death in middle-aged men and probably depression (11).
Alcohol and Depression, older people
What about older people?
As we get older, we tend to lose muscle and to put on fat. Alcohol isn't absorbed by fat, so it ends up in the non-fatty tissues of the body. So, an older person who is the same weight as a younger person will tend to have more alcohol in their vital organs (non-fatty tissues) such as brain, muscles and liver. This means that alcohol will affect an older person more (11). Therapy can help you address the causes of addiction to help you stop your addictive behaviour (4).
Alcohol and Depression, younger people
What about younger people?
Young people in the UK drink to have fun, to have the experience of losing control, to socialise more easily with others, to feel sexier – and because their friends do. Around a third of 15-16 year olds binge-drink three or more times a month - more than in most other European countries. Alcohol seems to have the same depressant effect in younger people as it does in adults. Around a third of young suicides have drunk alcohol before their death, and increased drinking may have been to blame for rising rates of teenage male suicide (11). Therapy can help you address the causes of addiction to help you stop your addictive behaviour (4).
Counselling and psychotherapy may be provided via Skype and FaceTime in the comfort of your home, office or any place of your choice.