Alcoholism And Depression: Do You Suffer From AUD?

Experts now refer to alcoholism as alcohol use disorder or AUD. This is because problems people experience with alcohol should not be limited to cases that are considered a ‘dependency’. AUD includes alcohol dependency, alcohol ‘alcohol abuse’ and ‘heavy alcohol consumption’ where a dependency has not arisen.

To suffer from AUD, the user must meet the criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), under DSM–5.

To assess whether you or a loved one may have an AUD, ask some of the below qestions.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

Alcohol, depression and the brain

When you consume an excessive amount of alcohol, you alter the chemical constitution of your brain. This is because alcohol depresses ‘neurotransmitters’ located in the brain. Neurotransmitters aid the transfer of signals between one nerve cell to another.

This means you feel relaxed and less inhibited when you drink alcohol. However, if you develop alcohol use disorder you will begin to experience a number of negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and anger. This is because alcoholism interferes with inhibitory neurotransmitters known as GABA-A. GABA-A is required for healthy mental health. Alcohol increases GABA-A. Because GABA-A is an inhibitory neurotransmitters, increasing its activity will slow nerve cells ability to transmit message across the brain.

Alcohol consumption also reduces levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical located in the brain that helps us regulate our mood. Some of the symptoms associated with alcohol-induced reduce serotonin levels include:

  • Poor sleeping after drinking
  • Low mood
  • Always feeling tired
  • Experiencing anxiety for no apparent reason

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