Depression and Substance Abuse

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”DEPRESSION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Depression can often be a precursor to drug  and alcohol problems. It’s not difficult to see why. It’s not unusual for substance abuse to start as a way to mentally escape from feelings or situations causing stress and depression. Addition can often be a result of an individual attempting to self-medicate in times of depression.

Unfortunately the problem with alcohol is that it is a depressant. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain thought to stabilise mood and sleep patterns. It is also linked with moderation of motivation and attention. The initial intake of alcohol has been seen to elevate levels of serotonin, linked with feelings of elevated mood. This explains why it is not uncommon for alcohol to be used to self-medicate when one is suffering depression. However continued intake of alcohol does not have the same effect, unfortunately over time it has quite the opposite

Regular drinking is known to actually deplete levels of serotonin in the brain. This means that those drinking to rid themselves from feelings of depression are entering into a destructive cycle. Drinking more lowers levels of serotonin, linked with increased feelings of depression, and feelings of depression motivate the individual to continue to drink. In addition to this sleep disturbances that can be caused by reduced serotonin levels can also contribute to lower mood, and motivational and attentional abnormalities are also linked with depression. It’s easy to see how difficult it may be to break this cycle. The promise of elevated mood motivating the individual to drink, followed by an ever lowering mood encouraging the person to continue attempts to self-medicate.

It is important that individuals who are suffering from depression seek out professional help. Depression can be worsened and become more enduring when coupled with alcohol addiction. There are many treatments and therapies available that have been shown as effective in alleviating depression. From cognitive behavioural therapy to medication such as SSRIs (serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors). Seeking help is essential, especially when taking into account alcohols links with self-harm and unfortunately suicide.




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