The UK is well known for its drinking culture – the first sunny day of summer in the pub garden or Sunday afternoon pints over bank holiday weekends. Enjoying a few drinks every now and then is absolutely fine, but it becomes problematic for many individuals. Alcohol and mental health are closely linked, so, ahead of Go Sober For October, we thought we’d examine this relationship.
When Does Drinking Become Problematic?
NHS guidelines state that you should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. One unit is the equivalent of half a pint of typical beer/cider, or a single 25ml shot of a 40% spirit. If you exceed this amount in the short term, you are more likely to suffer injuries from trips and falls, be the victim (or perpetrator) of violence, engage in unsafe sex, or give yourself alcohol poisoning. Long term, you may develop liver or heart disease and be more at risk of a number of cancers.
If you are unsure whether your drinking is problematic, you can use this self assessment tool to check.
The damage that alcohol can cause is not just physical as there is a positive correlation between excessive consumption of alcohol and mental health problems.
Alcohol And Mental Health – What Does Research Tell Us?
When looking at the use of alcohol and mental health, the most two common problems that come up are anxiety and depression, although it can also lead to psychosis, self-harm, and even suicide or suicidal ideation.
Those who suffer with anxiety often find that drinking can relax them and make them feel better, however, these effects are very short-lived. Using alcohol in this way can easily lead to dependence, and actually make anxiety worse, particularly when experiencing a hangover, which can mimic anxiety symptoms.
Heavy drinking is linked to symptoms of depression. Some individuals find that, when they start to drink less, or stop entirely, these feelings lessen. If you already suffer from depression and are taking antidepressant medication, drinking can inhibit their effectiveness and increase their negative side effects.
Psychosis is a much rarer topic when exploring alcohol and mental health, but alcohol-related psychotic episodes do occur. This tends to happen when individuals who drink heavily and regularly attempt to stop drinking completely. It is for this reason that those who are alcohol dependent seek medical help when trying to quit.
Loss of inhibition and impulsivity can result in intoxicated individuals being more likely to harm themselves. If you find yourself, or recognise someone else, at risk, you can call Samaritans at any time, or call 999 and go to A&E.
What To Do If You’re Struggling With Alcohol And Mental Health
If reading this information about alcohol and mental health has you considering your relationship with alcohol, there are many ways to get help.
How Can Dr Jan Help With Alcohol And Mental Health?
It is important to note that, whilst Dr Jan can help with the mental aspects of alcohol addiction, for physical dependance it is vital that you contact your GP.
The relationship between alcohol and mental health is often a case of individuals using the substance to self-medicate. This can be a very difficult habit to break. Fortunately, Dr Jan is well versed in breaking thinking patterns that result in bad habits.
Furthermore, we work with many highly successful individuals who are experiencing burnout at work. Unfortunately, this kind of work stress is linked with problem drinking. Dr Jan’s life coaching can leave you performing better at work and reduce your desire to drink.