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How Does Alcohol Affect Mental Health?

Jun 30, 2022

People who drink may do so in response to existing mental health issues, or they may create mental health problems from excessive drinking. Either way, the impact on a person’s mental health can be devastating if left untreated. Let’s look at some of the ways that daily and binge drinking alcohol can affect your mental health. 

Excessive alcohol use can affect mental health in executives significantly. Without a plan to manage daily stress, a person who copes with alcohol use can develop both an addiction and recurring symptoms of a mental health disorder. Some of these mental health symptoms may be concentration or memory problems, changes in social behavior, and aggressive behavior. Co-occurring treatment is recommended for an executive who’s been drinking excessively and suffering from mental health symptoms related to depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders.

Job Stress Impacts Mental Health 

Running a company or leading a department can be stressful. Urgent deadlines and growing responsibilities can add pressure to daily duties. Without intentional work to manage stress, mental health can become neglected. Executives who neglect their mental health needs routinely risk consequences that can affect them both personally and professionally. Daily physical activity (e.g., working out, going to the gym, etc.) can provide healthy ways to handle stress regularly. 

Warning Signs of Alcohol’s Effect on Mental Health

Excessive drinking can lead to a variety of symptoms related to a person’s mental health. Symptoms may show up as a personality change, the appearance of anxiety or depression (which we’ll revisit later), concentration and memory problems, and challenges in learning new things. 

Changing Social Behavior Due to Drinking

Untreated mental health issues can appear in new social behaviors of a person drinking daily. They may avoid social settings where their drinking will be watched closely and judged. They may choose to only socialize with other drinkers. They may feel the need to drink before going out to manage their stress. Their self-esteem when not drinking may be low. 

Alcohol’s Impact on Emotional Responses

Mental health affects a person’s emotional responses to situations. When someone’s not able to regulate their feelings, their outward behavior may become risky to themselves or others. They may become aggressive, physically or verbally. Arguing over trivial things can signify a strong emotional response connected to mental health issues. Acts of self-harm or mentions of suicide are other signs a person who’s been drinking is experiencing a mental health disorder. 

Alcohol and Depression

Drinking affects a person’s ability to regulate their moods. The result can be symptoms of severe depression during or following episodes of heavy drinking. Mixing alcohol with antidepressants can also affect mental health. The medication can become less potent when taken with alcohol. Side effects can develop along with dangerous drug interactions. One of those outcomes could be a spike in blood pressure. 

Alcohol and Anxiety

Drinking and hangovers can intensify feelings of anxiety, even if the initial drinks seem to reduce anxiety. The habit of drinking to deal with anxiety symptoms, such as sweating, trembling, and rapid breathing, reinforces the desire only to drink when symptoms return. Using alcohol as the coping strategy for these symptoms interferes with a person’s ability to develop healthy coping skills. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Is Recommended for Co-Occurring Disorders

Treatment for alcohol abuse in the past might have been unsuccessful for an individual if mental health issues weren’t addressed at the same time. Mental wellness is a factor in a person learning healthy coping strategies to deal with cravings and environmental influences that can lead to relapse. Dual diagnosis treatment supports recovery work for both alcohol use disorders and mental health disorders to set a patient up for success following a residential program. 

Headwaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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