Alcohol, across many centuries, has been an essential aspect of society and culture. Over the years, countless studies have been done to determine the benefits that alcoholic drinks can give to the body. While it does a massive effect on our body’s chemistry, it can also inflict a significant impact on our mental illness.
The reasons a person has for drinking and the entailing consequence of this action can be linked to their mental health. While drinking alcohol excessively can lead to mental health issues, it’s also the same culprit that causes a person to drink.
Most people drink to improve their mood as alcohol, or the mere act of drinking alcohol, can relieve symptoms of anxiety and even depression. People also drink for the reason that it can help them sleep better at night.
Specialists in the mental health field often refer to drinking as a kind of self-medication. This belief is directly linked as to why people with mental health issues think that drinking will improve their overall mental health.
It has been known that alcohol abuse can lead to health problems and make existing mental health problems worse.
Alcohol abuse is closely related to people with severe mental health issues. However, this doesn’t mean that drinking alcohol can lead to psychological issues itself. Studies show that alcohol abuse can cause people to be more vulnerable to mental illness, as a high amount of alcohol can cause the balance of your brain’s chemistry to go haywire.
Our brain mostly relies on its chemistry and brain processes. Since alcohol is a depressant, it disturbs the balance of our brain, which can affect our thought processes, emotions, and actions. This could also lead to chronic problems that might occur in the future if continued.
When we drink, we experience a sense of relaxation, which is our brain being out of balance. Alcohol disrupts this balance by depressing its part that is closely related to inhibition. This is not a significant problem, but when drinking is continued, other parts of the brain will also be affected, leading to more severe problems.
Excessive drinking can also cause lead to emotional changes. No matter what mood you started with when drinking, it has a possibility of changing. For the most part, a pleasurable experience will linger, but it could also lead to adverse changes in our emotions, like how some people become more aggressive or anxious, even depressed.
While regular drinking can be called self-medication for some, it can mostly lead to more problems. For instance, a glass of liquor can help you relax. But nonstop drinking of it can contribute lead to a plethora of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, not to mention it will make it difficult for the person to deal with stress.
When drinking, our perception of our surroundings will narrow, making it hard for us to respond to every stimulus. A person prone to anxiety might perceive their surroundings as somewhat threatening or the opposite, missing aggressive cues in the environment.
One of the problems that alcohol consumption associated with is that regular consumption in an extended period can cause a permanent change in your brain chemistry. One example of this is the depletion of a chemical called serotonin.
This chemical is responsible for depression. A cycle of one drinking to cope up with depression begins to lower the brain’s serotonin levels, which makes the person feeling more depressed, resulting in total dependency on alcohol.
Benefits of moderate drinking
Some beverages like wines, to name a few, Haut Medoc Bordeaux, Merlot, and most varieties of red wines, beers, tequila are alcoholic, but not too harmful if consumed moderately.
Take wine, for example. For people who love to drink wine, a study suggests that a chemical compound found on grapes to produce wine can be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Also, drinking wine can reduce depression and anxiety.
Studies mostly focus on the regular consumption of wine on mice, followed by different methods of scientific research. The conclusion the research has come up with is that resveratrol (a chemical compound found in grapes), has a protective effect from corticosterone, which is a stress hormone. Excessive levels of corticosterone are linked to a plethora of mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
However, linking mental health issues to alcohol can be a bit of a complicated matter. While there are benefits from drinking moderately, problems can also occur due to alcohol abuse.
Scientists say that every drink has its perks and disadvantages, which results in different results and conclusions. Further tests should be made to know which is good and bad for your health.
Determining the link between mental health issues and alcohol can both produce positive and negative results, depending on the drink you are testing. However, all of us agree that too much consumption of alcohol is harmful to one’s health, both physical and mental. Drinking moderately should always be the way to go.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.