Alcohol & Mental Health

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

According to mentalhealth.org, alcohol is a depressant. This means it affects the balance of chemical messengers or neurotransmitters in the brain, thus disrupting a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Alcohol tends to affect the region in the brain that controls inhibition. So, after alcohol consumption, you’re bound to feel relaxed, more confident, and less anxious. However, these effects do not last long and the chemical disruptions can soon result in negative feelings like anxiety, anger, and depression, no matter your current mood or location. Also, alcohol takes a toll on how the brain processes information, thus making it difficult to figure out exactly how you are feeling and the repercussions of your decisions and actions.

Consuming alcohol in the long term utilizes and reduces the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, you need a good number of these chemical messengers to do away with anxiety and depression. This creates an urge to consume more alcohol to alleviate these feelings, which if not careful leads to a cycle of dependence.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?

Drinking too much in the short term can result in sleep issues, migraines, alcohol poisoning, bloating, and an upset stomach. Also, it might cause you to behave aggressively or recklessly, become a victim of violence or get into an accident.

Drinking a lot in the long term also affects your body. Misusing alcohol increases the risk of severe health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, stroke, and even cancer. It can also result in social issues like financial hardships, unemployment, relationship break-ups, and even homelessness.

Dealing with all these issues can ultimately lead to mental health issues.

Alcohol & Anxiety

If you are anxious, alcohol can provide a temporary feeling of relaxation, but this again wards off pretty fast. If you depend on alcohol to deal with anxiety, you might soon find yourself depending on alcohol to relax, leading to alcohol dependence over time.

Also, during the hangover stage, the anxiety becomes worse.

If you rely on alcohol to unwind, consider other ways to relax such as yoga, meditation, exercise and even making time for things that you enjoy.

Alcohol & Psychosis

If you tend to binge drink, it is possible to experience psychosis, or if you are a heavy drinker and suddenly quit.

Alcohol, Self-harm & Suicide

Since drinking alcohol on the regular can lead to losing your inhibitions and acting in an impulsive manner, it can result in actions like self-harm and even suicide. Heavy drinking has been linked to suicidal thoughts and even attempts.

If you have hurt yourself or think you might commit suicide, go to A&E or call 999. Also if you are struggling with alcohol or any sort of addiction you may want to consider getting some sort of addiction counselling therapy.

Seeking help if You’re Concerned About Your Drinking

It is advisable for people not to drink more than 14 units of drinks in a week. This equates to six pints of the average beer or six medium glasses of wine. If you find yourself drinking more than this, consider spreading it over three or more days.

Again, if you are worried about your level of alcohol consumption, there is plenty of help so do not be ashamed or hesitant.

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