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Psychological Effects of Alcohol

Psychological effects

Those who abuse alcohol consider it to be an ‘upper’ but in fact alcohol is a depressant and its effect on the brain depresses the central nervous system functioning, which can lead to depression.

Many alcoholics drink to avoid their problems, however research has shown that excessive and long term intake of alcohol leads to many major depressive disorders.

Your brain chemistry can be altered by the excessive use of alcohol due to neurotransmitters – chemicals that help to transmit signals from one neuron (or nerve) to another.

The relaxed feeling you experience with your first drink is created by the chemical changes alcohol has caused in your brain. Alcohol depresses inhibition and this why you begin to feel less anxious and more confident. However, in many cases as you continue drinking it is possible that a negative emotional response can take over and you’ll find yourself feeling depressed, anxious, angry and even aggressive.


Psychological effectsIn Britain, people who suffer from depression or anxiety are twice as likely to be alcohol abusers. There are some who have suffered with anxiety and depression and then started drinking to relieve it.

Alcohol tends to numb your feelings and emotions, however, it is short lived because as soon as you are sober the problems and feelings come right back and can feel even worse. By not drinking you are allowing yourself the space to deal with your problems and this will eventually lighten or alleviate the depression.

If you drink alcohol on a regular basis, your levels of serotonin are lowered, which regulates your mood. Depression can also be contributed to the effects that the alcohol abuse has had on your friends, family, co-workers and work performance.

Anxiety and fear

Fears are a necessary and natural response to life threatening situations. It protects you and keeps you on your toes. However, sometimes the fear begins to rule your life – you experience panic attacks around people and may become too afraid to venture out.

Some turn to alcohol as a means to overcome their fears and anxieties. This only treats the symptom and not the cause and after a while you will need to increase your alcohol intake to achieve the desired effect.

Rather than alcohol, visit your local GP, who will advise you and probably refer you for psychological help instead.


Psychological effectsThis can be caused by extreme levels of drinking, such as more than 30 units per day for several weeks. It is a severe mental illness where delusions and hallucinations of persecution develop.

Psychosis is when you lose touch with reality and your thought processes are disturbed. You may think about or suspect stalking, brainwashing, your phone being tapped or conspiracies. If you have experienced psychotic symptoms, it is advised that you do not drink alcohol as it is known to trigger psychotic episodes.

It is common for psychotic symptoms to occur when a very heavy drinker suddenly stops drinking and develops a condition known as ‘delirium tremens’ – symptoms include confusion and body tremors.

A psychosis can become life-threatening and rates of suicide are high, therefore it is important to seek medical help if any of the above symptoms appear.


Psychological effectsAlcohol plays an immense role in domestic violence as perpetrators of ‘violence’ are often acting out under the influence of alcohol. You may take a comment personally or be unable to see things in perspective. If you find that you cannot control your aggression once you have had a few drinks, consider changing your drinking habits, not only for your sake, but for those around you.

Suicidal behaviours

Research has shown that out of all persons hospitalised for suicide attempts, alcoholics were 75 times more likely to successfully commit suicide than other suicide attempters. The general alcoholic population has an increased risk of suicide in comparison to the general public by 5 – 20 and around 15 percent of alcoholics do eventually commit suicide.

If you are effected by a disturbed sleep, feel lethargic and tired all the time, experience anxiety or moodiness, see these as warning signs and contact a professional that can help you, rather than turning to the bottle.


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