The Connection Between Alcohol and Depression

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Do you or someone you love struggle with addiction and depression? Are you curious about how alcohol and depression are connected?

If you or someone you know is battling depression, know that alcohol or partaking in recreational drugs will not make it any better. If you want to learn more about the correlation between alcohol and depression, you will want to continue reading below.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that can cause you to feel sad, loss, empty, or angry. Those who have depression lose interest in the activities that once made them happy.

Those types of activities can include partaking in social events or doing your favorite hobby. If you are someone who suffers from depression, you are not alone. Over 264 million people suffer from depression.

If you notice yourself having any of the listed symptoms, you may suffer from depression. It is essential to know that there are several different types of depression.

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Doctors will use a physical exam, psychological evaluation, and some lab tests to confirm if you have depression. Your doctor will also ask you some questions to rule out or confirm if you are depressed.

Depending on how you answer those questions, the doctor will prescribe you a treatment plan.

If there are any co-occurring conditions, such as alcohol or drug abuse along with depression, they may refer you to another treatment provider. Co-treatment will help to make sure that both of your diagnoses are acknowledged and adequately taken care of.

Major Depressive Disorder

Those diagnosed with major depressive disorder suffer severe depression symptoms that interfere with their daily functionalities. These depressive episodes tend to only occur once in someone’s lifetime, but it can be a common occurrence for others.

Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression in the United States. Individuals who suffer from this disorder tend to cycle through episodes of feeling depressed and then periods of feeling like they are doing just fine. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is a depressed mood that can last for about two or more years. It is also known as dysthymia which is chronic low-grade depression.

Symptoms of this disorder usually come and go, but symptoms typically don’t disappear for more than two months at a time. Those with persistent depressive disorder may find it hard to be upbeat even on the happiest of events. Others may perceive you as someone who has a gloomy personality or who is incapable of having fun.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, also known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder, is linked to changes in seasons. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder tend to emerge around the fall season and gradually worsen during the winter months.

You may want to use alcohol or recreational drugs to achieve a temporary sense of pleasure during this time. Unfortunately, frequent use and abuse of drugs and alcohol during this time can linger into the following year.

This problem of using alcohol and drugs to cope during these seasons can turn into a full-blown addiction. Addiction happens because the body becomes dependent on the chemicals released by those substances to feel numb or happy.

Understanding Addiction

Anyone can be afflicted with addiction. The issue is not one of discipline or weakness. Rather, it is something that happens for a variety of reasons, most often caused by past experiences.

For example, take someone who gets addicted to their prescription medication after a procedure or surgery. In the aftermath of their accident, they took the prescribed painkillers to treat their pain.

Physical addiction and withdrawal symptoms were the results of taking powerful opioids. As a result, they do not suffer from opioid withdrawal but instead self-medicate in order to maintain their addiction.

On the other hand, individuals that are suffering from depression might be dealing with intense mental pain.

An individual with a mental illness or trauma in their life might experience drugs differently from others as a result of recreational use. In comparison to the pain they were experiencing, the release from that pain could be beneficial.

Drugs or alcohol used to cope with pain can become an addiction in the absence of insight into addiction or resources to try and find other ways to resolve it.

Lots of people have a close-minded disposition on addiction. There are many factors to addiction such as genetic ones that might contribute to the addict’s addictive behavior.

Hence, we can see that addictions aren’t always the result of a personal choice or character trait.

People become addicted to different substances for legitimate reasons, and the development of that addiction has nothing to do with their character or worth.

Alcohol and Depression

People who are depressed may turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate themselves to help distract them from persistent feelings of sadness.

Many people drink alcohol or partake in drugs to help reduce their anxiety or to reduce their inhibition. Those who have PTSD or who have previously undealt with trauma are more likely to abuse alcohol to soothe their feelings.

Other warning signs of alcohol abuse are avoiding certain activities to drink. If you or your loved ones do not treat alcohol use disorder within a timely manner, it can become a lifelong struggle to stop abusing alcohol.

Help With Alcohol and Depression

There are many different ways to seek help with alcohol and depression disorders, such as seeking therapy. You can find help from support groups or cognitive behavioral therapy. There are some cases when people will need to go through a detoxification process to rid their bodies of the drugs and alcohol in their system.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a great way to help with alcohol abuse or depression because it is designed to help address emotional pain or trauma. Your therapist will help you learn to replace your negative thoughts with positive and uplifting thoughts and feelings.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also great for helping to develop and practice healthy coping behaviors. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach you how to identify potential triggers and find ways to cope with urges to drink or use drugs.

This therapy also helps guide you to be realistic with your goals, so you aren’t overwhelming yourself. After being evaluated by a doctor, they will determine if this form of therapy is best for you or if you need a more intense form of treatment such as outpatient care.


Certain outpatient facilities don’t offer detoxing services, so they are usually referred to other locations that can. The first step in detoxing is to clear your system of any alcohol or drugs and to remain sober. The side effects of detox can differ from person to person, and detoxing on your own can be dangerous.

It is essential to detox with a medical professional to make sure that you are safe and healthy while your system is cleaned of the substances. Everyone reacts differently to detoxing, so you must detox in the presence of a medical professional so they can best accommodate your alcohol withdrawal and depression.

Antidepressants and Other Medications

Your doctor can prescribe you antidepressants that can help you with your depression and some of your symptoms of alcohol use disorder.

You may receive an alcohol deterrent medication to help stop you from drinking and helps to reduce depressive symptoms. If you drink while on an alcohol deterrent medication, you will experience uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a way to meet and facilitate a discussion among others who are also going through what you are going through. The goal is to work together to overcome similar co-occurring disorders.

Group therapy is an open and safe space for you and your peers to openly discuss your addiction’s highs and lows or your conditions. It is a safe space to receive and offer advice that may benefit a peer. Sessions are typically held once or twice a week, depending on your program.

Depression and AUD; What Comes First?

It is unclear what comes first: alcohol misuse or depression. One person may have frequent episodes of depression and turn to alcohol for self-soothing reasons, while someone else may have a drinking problem that turns into depression. It is possible that genetics, personal history, and someone’s personality can cause depression or alcohol misuse.


Those with family members who have had alcohol use disorder or depression may have a higher risk of having either disorder. Also, people who are influenced by their environment can be susceptible to alcohol dependence.

Personal History

Those who experience abuse or trauma are more likely to be depressed and misuse alcohol to help cope with the emotional and physical pain. Relationship problems can also cause depression and alcohol abuse.


It is believed that those with a “negative” outlook on life may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder or any form of depression. People who have low-self esteem or difficulty in social settings may also develop depression.

Does Alcohol Make You Depressed?

Yes, alcohol can cause depression because alcohol is a depressant. Excessive drinking can cause you to make bad decisions that can impact your life, causing you to be depressed. Drinking can cause relationships to be ruined, and it can also cause you to lose your job.

How Does Alcohol Affect Depression?

Alcohol can enhance depression and your depressive symptoms. If you are currently depressed and trying to make yourself feel better, alcohol won’t help. Alcohol causes you to stay in those depressive episodes and can interfere with your recovery.

Get Help Today with Inland Detox

Alcohol and depression treatment is available to you if you are in need. There are so many different treatment options available to you, and it can be challenging to figure out what works best for your situation.

If you are looking for help with quitting alcohol and depression or a withdrawal from alcohol and depression, reach out to us now. We at Inland Detox are here to get you the proper help you need to get you back on your feet. To learn more about our programs, contact us now.


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