Alcohol and Mental Health


Heavy drinking can have a detrimental affect on mental health.

It is commonly held that alcohol is a stimulant because it often makes people feel more outgoing or chatty. However, it’s actually a depressant and depresses the nervous system. It can perk people up in the short term but have a destabilising effect on the mood in the longer term.

Experts suggest that those who drink alcohol are more at risk of mental health problems. Research has found that heavy drinking can trigger or exacerbate mental health issues in those that are pre-disposed to them.

Using alcohol as an emotional crutch is common and in the short-term having a drink can minimise anxiety and make you feel confident. However, heavy drinking can bring about problems for people and also make problems worse. This can lead to a cycle of drinking that is hard to break.

Furthermore, estimates suggest that as many as two in three suicides in the UK can be linked to alcohol. This includes 70% of male suicides. Alcohol can make people feel more irrational and less inhibited and affect their ability to make measured judgements. This can make them more susceptible to thoughts of self harm or suicide.

Excessive drink or the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can in some cases lead to a kind of psychosis where the person is confused, unable to think clearly and possibly hallucinating. If you experience or witness this you should treat it as an emergency. Anyone considering stopping drinking after a period of heavy drinking should always consult their GP.

If you’re concerned about drinking and your mental health, professional help is available to help you with both alcohol and mental health issues. 

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