Depressed and Drunk? (how to cope)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the conditions of being depressed and drunk and look at other alcohol-related problems. We will also discuss why you should not get drunk when you are also depressed and look at how you can cope with depression and being drunk.

Depressed and Drunk

Getting drunk when depressed is something professionals advise against very strictly, as depression can be worsened by alcohol, not to mention being drunk also interferes with the effects of antidepressants, if you are taking any. Alcohol is considered a depressant on its own as well, meaning it brings your energy level and cognitive functions down, so getting drunk when you are depressed can be very harmful. Conversely, getting drunk too often can also put you at risk of becoming depressed, due to the depressant effects of alcohol.

7 facts about being depressed and drunk

When you get drunk, your brain goes into a depressed mode, all the cognitive functions slow down, your memories start getting hazy and your inhibitions are lowered.

It is seen very often that when people are drunk they tend to say whatever is on their mind and they are not able to do simple things, this is due to a general depression of brain functions, that comes about due to the drunk state.

Some people also feel depressed mood after drinking alcohol, all these effects happen for a number of reasons, given below.

Depressed and Drunk? (how to cope)

Alcohol acts as a depressant

Usually, the rule of thumb is the way you feel in the morning after getting drunk, is when you can truly feel the impact of alcohol on your mental and physical health.

When you are in the process of getting drunk it may feel great as it numbs our stress of day to day life, but the next day you feel the after-effects of how problematic alcohol can be to your brain.

This happens because alcohol is classified as a depressant which means that it affects your brain’s natural balance of happiness causing hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

This means that while you may be riding your serotonin while getting drunk and enjoying it, at the same time the alcohol is shutting down the productions of these hormones, causing you to feel depressed and anxious, or just plain sick.

Hangovers

If you get drunk often enough, like even every few days, the hangovers the next day will start to affect you adversely.

Hangovers happen because alcohol has basically leeched your system of hydration, hampered the production of important hormones, caused all sorts of problems with perception, and maybe killed off a few thousand neurons or brain cells.

In addition, alcohol acts quite quickly on the gastrointestinal and liver system as well, causing retention and discomfort.

This is why people who get drunk wake up with symptoms like tiredness, headache, sensitivity to light, thirst, and bad breath.

The typical sensitivity to light that people with hangovers experience so much is caused by the chemical acetaldehyde from alcohol, which makes the nervous system extra sensitive to all stimuli like touch, light, and sound.

Getting too drunk may also cause low blood sugar as alcohol impacts the liver, which can lead to trembling and nausea or vomiting.

Alcohol can cause anxiety

Alcohol has also been shown to induce anxiety or anxious feelings in people who may not have had it ordinarily.

It works something like this, people tend to drink more when experiencing moderate to high levels of shyness or fear, and while initially, alcohol might help with these feelings, it may eventually become an escape mechanism and you might not even be able to function normally without it, causing symptoms of anxiety.

In addition to making things worse for depressed people, getting drunk can also lead to a worsening of anxiety symptoms.

Worsening negative emotions

Being depressed and drunk seems to go hand in hand in movies and tv shows, and this is based on real-life research, which shows that alcohol most certainly makes negative emotions get worse.

Getting drunk and depressed happens because alcohol can release bottled-up emotions or make feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration feel more intense, which obviously affects your health, friendships, family, and work.

Getting drunk can also bring about changes in our thinking and we can often experience exasperation when we feel like we have a “foggy brain” that doesn’t allow us to think as clearly as usual.

Getting drunk affects sleep

Getting drunk can lead to being depressed because alcohol tends to affect sleep adversely as well.

Sure you may feel like you are passing out or falling asleep so much quicker after getting drunk, but that is not because it is helping you sleep, that is just because it is dulling your brain, however, this does not mean that your sleep will be restful or restorative, which can lead to big problems later.

The quality of sleep is of paramount importance as repetitive bouts of bad sleep can pave the way for feeling depressed.

Being drunk forms unhealthy coping mechanisms

If you start turning to alcohol for every little stressor, it eventually stops you from forming healthy mechanisms for dealing with a normal part of life.

Everyone gets stressed but getting drunk every time you are depressed is just giving you an unhealthy manner of dealing with your problems.

Being drunk lowers inhibitions

It may seem odd but the lowered inhibitions you experience when drunk can lead to you feeling depressed.

Often when you are drunk you may say or do things you may feel shameful about the next morning, it could be an argument with a friend or just embarrassing things you may have done, but constantly feeling this shame and guilt can make you depressed, as it chips away at your self-worth and self-concept.

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is a condition where one uses alcohol in harmful ways and is not able to stop even in the face of obvious problems like depression.

If you know someone that keeps getting drunk and depressed and seems even more depressed when they are not drunk, they may have an alcohol-related problem.

According to the International Classification of Disorders (ICD-10), there are different diagnoses for the condition we call being drunk colloquially.

These conditions involve Harmful use of Alcohol, Alcohol dependence, Alcohol abuse, and other disorders like dementia, delirium, psychosis, or mania related to alcohol.

While these are more clinical in nature, some symptoms of someone possibly suffering from an alcohol-related issue are:

·       They cannot stop themselves from drinking despite feeling bad about it when they are sober.

·       They act differently when they are drunk, this change may be positive or negative.

·       They have gotten in a position to hurt themselves or another person while drunk

·       They get agitated when they are not able to procure alcohol

·       They keep getting drunk even though they get hangovers and adverse effects often

·       They tend to drink more and more because their usual amount of alcohol is not getting them drunk anymore

·       It takes a lot for them to get drunk

·       They can get angry if stopped from drinking

·       They have had physical problems related to alcohol but they still insist on getting drunk.

·       Craving alcohol often

Types of Depression

The main types of depression include major depressive episodes, manic depression (or Bipolar disorder), seasonal affective disorder, psychotic depression, dysthymia, and substance-induced depression.

In this context, the most important one to focus on is Substance-induced Depression, as this is the type that is caused by alcohol.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), if a person exhibits some of these symptoms for at least two weeks they can be diagnosed with depression:

·       Low mood

·       Feelings of worthlessness

·       Concentration problems

·       Sleep problems

·       Fatigue

·       Loss of interest in activities

·       Loss of motivation

·       Suicidal thoughts

·       Guilt

The symptoms of depression do not change if it is induced by alcohol, but they usually start out more intense than they would ins someone that does not have the habit of getting drunk.

It has been noted that being depressed can lead to being drunk but the inverse, that is getting drunk to depressed, is even more common.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the condition of being depressed both starts and increase due to getting drunk often.

Getting depressed can further increase the frequency of getting drunk, therefore making the situation much worse.

Usually, if someone feels depressed when drunk it’s likely that these symptoms will disappear, at least a little after alcohol consumption has stopped.

According to a study published in the journal Addiction, it has been seen that individuals dealing with any alcohol-related disorder or depression are at double the risk of developing the other condition.

Locus of Control and Getting drunk

Locus of control is a concept that refers to the tendency of people to attribute the situations in their life to internal or external causes.

When people attribute bad situations in their life to factors like a lack in their skill or their own mistakes, they can be said to have an internal locus of control, whereas if they tend to blame outside forces like luck or people being mean, they have an external locus of control.

Locus of control also determines how people cope with problems, and it has been seen that people who tend to get drunk to not feel depressed or use other substances have an external locus of control.

Oddly enough, being depressed may involve an internal locus of control, but in a negative manner, as people tend to blame themselves for everything and tend to focus all the negativity inward.

Coping with being depressed and drunk

If you often get depressed and drunk, you may need some help from your family and friends to cope with this issue.

Usually, it is not recommended that people suffering from alcohol-related problems try to fix it on their own, it is important to have the support of loved ones.

Here are some tips on how to cope with being depressed and drunk.

·       Talk to your family and friends about your problem. Don’t be afraid of what they will say or if they will be disappointed, they will be glad that you are trying to fix yourself.

·       Try to seek help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, these are meant to help you with any problems related to alcohol and they provide the kind of support you need.

·       Try to avoid alcohol completely when you are depressed or taking antidepressants. These two conditions clash with each other and you end up depressed and drunk.

·       If you feel depressed too often instead of getting drunk try to get help for the depressing, getting drunk is not the solution.

·       Try to find healthier ways of coping with stress and feeling depressed, like taking on a hobby or trying to take on a new project to keep you occupied.

·       If you are suffering from feeling depressed the morning after getting drunk, hydrate well, eat some food with carbohydrates, and try to get some rest.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the conditions of being depressed and drunk and looked at other alcohol-related problems. We also discussed why you should not get drunk when you are also depressed and looked at how you can cope with being depressed and drunk. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Depressed and Drunk

Can alcohol make you feel depressed?

Yes, alcohol can make you feel depressed, this is due to the fact that alcohol is a depressant and it affects your brain’s balance of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. While you may feel great eventually when drinking alcohol, you may eventually start to feel really depressed and sick.

Why do depressed people turn to alcohol?

Depressed people often turn to alcohol as it makes them feel num and dulls their senses, which can lead to a reduction in negative thoughts they feel due to depression.

Drinking alcohol can, however, worsen the symptoms of depression, which can lead to life-threatening implications. 

This is because alcohol impacts the same areas of the brain that help manage mood. 

Do true feelings come out when drunk?

True feelings come out when drunk because alcohol tends to reduce our inhibitions, leading us to feel freer.

Alcohol is also a depressant that limits cognitive functions, which can also make tru feelings come out.

Why does alcohol make you hornier?

Alcohol makes you hornier because ethanol stimulates the primal part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for basic instincts like hunger, sex drive, and thirst.

Does alcohol kill brain cells?

Alcohol cannot actually kill brain cells but it can damage the ends of the brain cells, leading to a reduction, or total failure, of the neuron to relay messages, which means they may as well be dead as they are not able to fulfill their function.

Citations

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/alcohol-and-depresssion#2

https://www.alcohol.org/guides/alcohol-fueled-emotions/

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/depression

Depressed and Drunk? (how to cope)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.