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Depression and Alcohol Abuse

Written by: Petros Skapinakis, MD, MPH, PhD, lecturer of Psychiatry in the University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece. Eva Gerasi, postgraduate student in the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece.
First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest version: 29 Jul 2008.


What is the relationship between depression and alcohol abuse?


What is the relationship between depression and alcohol abuse?


Pharmacologically speaking, alcohol is in the short term a stimulant drug. It makes us more confident socially and allows us to appear more witty and attractive than normal. However, in the longer term it acts as a depressant. Several hours after drinking alcohol we feel tired, drowsy. It may also disrupt our sleep pattern, bringing further effects in its wake, including the well-known hangover. If alcohol is persistently abused, it can lead to a state of depression which can be quite long-lasting and also quite debilitating. Usually, if the damage to an individual's work, marriage and finances are not great, this damage may be repaired and mood will return to normal once the person abstains. It is, of course, the case that those who have problems with alcohol are generally using the drug to correct some rather chronic state of unhappiness, although in the long run this is certainly a self-defeating strategy.
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