A review on alcohol: from the central action mechanism to chemical dependency

is alcohol a depressant

Examples of depressants include sleeping pills, alcohol and opioids such as illegal drugs like heroin or legal ones like OxyContin, Vicodin or morphine. Drinking persistently and excessively can increase your risk of developing a major depressive disorder. It can also aggravate symptoms of pre-existing depression and endanger your health and mental health. As depression rates continue to climb in many parts of the world, mental health professionals continue to look at external factors in hopes of understanding why. Alcohol consumption can lead to feelings of depression due to chemical reactions.

is alcohol a depressant

They don’t make you “depressed” — they calm down activity in your CNS. USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From “How long does alcohol stay in your system?” to “Is time travel possible?” to “Why do dogs eat grass?” − we’re striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our Just Curious section to see what else we can answer for you. Alcohol is frequently used to numb uncomfortable emotions and can become a habitual pattern that disrupts the natural balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Below are some of the most common questions and answers about alcohol.

Is alcohol a stimulant or depressant?

Many studies have found that alcohol dependence is closely linked to depression. When it comes to diagnosing an alcohol use disorder and a major depressive disorder, it’s important to address them simultaneously, as they can significantly impact your recovery. Alcohol is a depressant 6 ways adult children of alcoholics struggle later in life that reduces the speed of brain activity. Research indicates that it can have negative effects even in low amounts. Furthermore, alcohol overuse can damage the body and may lead to AUD. Long-term overuse of alcohol can cause physical and psychological dependence.

is alcohol a depressant

A person should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about healthy alcohol use. Research suggests that light or moderate wine consumption may reduce the risk of dementia, but drinking an excessive amount of wine increases the chance of dementia and cognitive decline. The amount of alcohol a person consumes affects them more than the type of alcohol they drink. Yes, initially and in small doses, alcohol does act as a stimulant. Drinking may lower a person’s inhibitions, which may increase feelings of spontaneity. In addition, your doctor may prescribe medicines that are meant to lower alcohol cravings, which can reduce your desire to drink.

Such effects aren’t always immediate, however, and issues can and often do build over time. In this way, it’s believed that alcohol use is one of the few depressants that can lead to depression in some users when consumed in high amounts. “Persistent heavy drinking, particularly alcohol use disorder, increases the risk for depression,” Krystal says. “Data reveals that 27% of people with major depressive disorder also have a drug addiction,” says Jameca Woody Cooper, PhD, a psychologist and adjunct professor at Webster University in Missouri. In other words, depressants can both lead to feelings of depression while also making matters worse for people already battling clinical depression.

It can also decrease feelings of anxiety and make some people chatty or sociable, even energized. It can also feel rewarding to drink, as alcohol releases dopamine in the brain, encouraging you to keep drinking. Previous trauma is also a risk factor for alcohol misuse and depression. Children who have major depression as a child may drink earlier in life, according to one study.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

The risk of depression is greater for older people and those with a history of depression. It’s a little less clear why a sometimes crushing low replaces that initial high as your blood alcohol level decreases. For this reason, doctors often prescribe sedatives to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, while hypnotics can induce sleep. Tranquilizers are more often used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and acute stress, or relieve muscle spasms.

  1. People take them as a sleep aid, and use them to ease muscle spasms and prevent seizures.
  2. But the jury’s still out, and research is still pretty unclear on how it works.
  3. Some are safer than others, but all produce lower levels of awareness in the brain and cause the activity in the CNS to slow down.
  4. Drinking to cope with depression, no matter if you have an alcohol use disorder, is concerning.

But that sense of euphoria quickly diminishes and “a rebound effect” occurs, he explains. This often leads to feelings of depression or anxiety in many users. It is important to note that medications for alcohol use disorder are a first-line treatment. They can be helpful for many, so talk to your doctor about this option. However, alleviating depression does not resolve the alcohol use disorder. In some cases, you may receive a dual diagnosis of a major depressive disorder (MDD) and an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

What is the healthiest alcohol?

People who are dependent on alcohol may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit drinking. These symptoms may range from nausea and anxiety to seizures and hallucinations. Research has also shown that drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer. Even if you’re drinking the same alcoholic beverage at the same rate as someone else, your reactions will differ. It’s important to remember that alcohol is a depressant, and you can overdose if you drink too much.

Emerging research has found that there is a genetic link between AUD and depression. Another way that depression could lead someone to drink alcohol is through changes in their brain as a result of depression. These changes can heighten the physiological “rewards” of alcohol and increase the likelihood that they will continue their pattern trauma symptoms of adult children of alcoholics of drinking. One study of 421 people found that 25% had both alcohol misuse and depression. Individuals diagnosed with clinical depression should be extremely cautious when it comes to using substances such as alcohol. According to Kennedy, for those taking antidepressants, combining them with alcohol can reduce their efficacy.

Can alcohol act as a stimulant?

We looked at how depressants work and the way alcohol relates to that drug (because it’s hella weird). In a 2017 study, approximately 60% of red wine drinkers said they felt tired after drinking, the highest percentage out of any other alcohol in the study (spirits, white wine and beer). The study focused on emotions people reported feeling after drinking different alcoholic beverages. If you have depression and drink too much alcohol, then you may be wondering if there are any treatments or lifestyle changes for someone in your situation. People with depression may use alcohol as a form of self-medication.

No matter your drink of choice, alcohol can easily be abused and often is, especially when it’s used to self-medicate. Alcohol can produce feelings of euphoria and excitement, making you feel instantly happier and more confident, but those feelings are fleeting. Much like barbiturates sobriety strategies (sedatives), alcohol is a drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain’s functionality. Consuming too much alcohol too quickly can affect breathing, body temperature, and heart rate. In extreme cases, alcohol poisoning can cause brain damage or even death.

What You Can Do to Manage Alcohol and Depression

It can be tempting to drink if you’re feeling unhappy, but there’s a better solution out there. When treating depression and substance abuse, consult with a mental health professional and/or an addiction specialist who can provide resources and recommendations for possible treatment options. A large 2018 study indicated that any level of drinking is harmful. Over 140,000 people in the U.S. die from overconsuming alcohol each year.

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