The reasons why a person drinks and the consequences of drinking too much are closely linked to one’s mental health. The relationship between alcohol misuse and different forms of mental health illness is a complex one. Drinking a lot of alcohol can may accelerate or uncover a predisposition to psychiatric disorder. Alcohol may be also used by some people as a form of self- medication to cope with symptoms of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety as well as the symptoms of psychosis.
People who drink a lot of alcohol are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health problems. Alcohol has a role in a number of conditions:
- Anti social personality disorder; people with ASPD have 21 times the average population risk of experiencing alcohol related problems or dependence
- Depression; 1.9 time the average population risk of alcohol dependence; alcohol is a depressant drug, prolonged drinking can lead to profound and long lasting mood swings, symptoms of alcohol induced depression can be severe;
- Anxiety; 1.5 times the average population risk of experiencing alcohol dependence; in many cases anxiety is a consequence of heavy drinking rather than a cause, high doses of alcohol increase psychological distress so drinkers become progressively more depressed and anxious during chronic intoxication
- Obsessive compulsive disorders
- Manic- depressive illness
- Schizopherenia; 3 times the average population risk of alcohol dependence
- Brain damage; chronic alcohol consumption is associated with extensive brain damage and cognitive deficits leading in extreme cases to alcoholic dementia, a loss of intellectual functioning combined with amenesia.
Having alcohol problems increases the likelihood that someone will attempt suicide and that’s epically true for men. The World Health Organisation has estimated that the risk of suicide when a person is drinking a lot of alcohol is eight times greater.
Alcohol dependence is often characterised by the vicious circle of short-term psychological benefits from drinking, at the expense of long term deterioration and increasing depression and sense of hopelessness. A large number of alcohol- dependent individuals entering treatment show evidence of anxiety, sadness, depression and/ or manic like symptoms.