Depression and Alcoholism

Depression and alcoholism affect millions around the world. In fact, about 10% of the US population is affected by depression. According to health related surveys, almost 22,000 deaths occurred due to alcohol-induced causes in the US in 2005 alone, which excludes death due to accidents and homicides. As many as 20 million Americans are victims of depression, which comes out to be 1 in every 15. However, the immediate cause of concern is not the above numbers, but the alarming rate at which these ailments are engulfing the population. The modern way of life and the associated factors are primarily responsible for endangering a whole generation of our society.

There are different ways in which depression starts to shadow our existence. Feeling low and bored is a natural reaction of the body to an unwanted or sad event. But if there is a prolonged sense of hopelessness or a feeling that you won’t ever be able to feel happy again, you might need to pull up your socks! It may be depression at its best, working its way slowly into your mind and affecting your health. You are a victim depression if you feel

  • worthless and hopeless frequently
  • unable to get good sleep
  • lack of concentration in almost every endeavor of yours
  • irritated easily more often than not
  • feel like a worthless being

However, we must understand that feeling depressed as a spontaneous reaction to an event does not amount to depression. There is a huge difference between clinical depression and normal depression as a stimulus to a tragic or unfortunate event. Clinical depression, ‘the disease’ is generally accompanied by social phobias, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, feeling extremely guilty and so on. If not handled with care, it can lead to grave consequences.

Alcoholism is characterized with excessive intake of alcohol such that it adversely affects the body and the psyche of a person. It usually is associated with a big craving for alcohol with a rising intake and tolerance to amount consumed, severe lack of will to stop drinking and symptoms like nausea, shaking, heavy perspiration and uneasiness if one quits drinking. It is a chronic malady that has a bad effect on your personal, family and social and work life. Alcohol can cause major forms of cancer like liver cancer, throat cancer, the larynx cancer, esophagus cancer and in some cases brain damage or fetus harm during pregnancy. A heavy drinker is unable to keep up with social, occupational and recreational activities leading to decrease in chances of a full recovery.

Two Sides of the Same Coin
Depression and alcoholism form a vicious circle. A depressed person is more likely to have alcohol abuse issues and on the other hand an alcoholic person is more susceptible to depression. There is a striking correlation between alcoholism and depression. The irony of the situation is that most people feel that drinking alcohol is a way to elevate their moods and in fact, one is more prone to depression by consuming alcohol. Another important point to understand is that alcohol negates the effect of any medication prescribed for depression and may worsen the situation. If you move around in your locality and survey about a dozen heavy drinkers, most of them are likely to show signs of depression as mentioned earlier. Even though alcohol may facilitate depression or aggravate its signs, it does not ’cause’ depression. Scientifically, in most of the cases alcohol has a negative effect on the neurotransmitters of the body which may trigger a ‘depressive feeling’. Similarly, the so-called pleasant euphoria associated with drinking causes unsettling, irritation, and impairs the coordination skills of an individual. On persisting with the same, it may lead to depressive disorders.

Alleviating measures
A strong will power advocated by proper medical guidance and counseling may help cure these lifestyle induced diseases. Since the psychology of the concerned person is directly involved in depression or alcohol abuse, practices such as spiritual healing, meditation or yoga can also work wonders for the patient. The first and foremost step is to stop drinking and work on a more positive attitude towards life. A simple yet effective saying goes thus, ‘Prevention is better than cure‘. An active social involvement in noble causes, a healthy lifestyle and a lot of physical activity and of course, shunning the use of alcohol will definitely keep this menace at bay.

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