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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there a relationship between depression and alcoholism?

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    beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    In a word, yes. Certainly drinking high quantities of alcohol can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Alcohol has a depressant effect. In addition, many people experiencing depression may tend to consume alcohol to mask the symptoms of depression or anxiety, however unfortunately this only makes things worse. So, it is a double edged sword, and hence any treatment and recovery from depression will involve reducing alcohol. Also, if taking antidepressants, alcohol will ultimately impact on their ability to work properly, hence reducing their effectiveness.

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    Anonymous

    Yes - sometimes as noted above, alcohol is the ‘medicine’ that we reach for when we are struggling with painful symptoms of depression anxiety or other mood disorder maybe that we haven't yet articulated.  Have a drink and forget about it sort of thing.

    Other times overuse of alcohol can actually create depression.

    Best to stick to safe drinking guidelines and if that's difficult then counselling can help work out why.

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Writing as somebody is in remission from clinical depression and alcohol addiction, my answer is “Yes”.

    As the contributor from beyondblue noted, alcohol is a depressant in a pharmacological sense.

    Self-medication with alcohol is common in people who are dealing with clinical depression but mixing a depressant drug (alcohol) with prescribed antidepressant drugs is not a good plan.

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    Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, … View Profile

    I agree with the above.  What started the drinking and depression is the indicator for both the depression and alcohol habit.  We talk about genetic vulnerability, which is true.  But my experience has mostly shown a cause to this viscious cycle.   Release the  happening and you may release the need for either.  Hypnotherapy is a good way to see if it can help you get back on track.

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    I am a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who specialises in Adult ADHD, Jungian Psychotherapy, and the Psychological Medicine aspects of Chronic Pain conditions. View Profile

    It is vitally inportant for those involved in the care of such patients to recognise that Lifelong Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) very commonly underly both Depressive Disorders and Alcoholism, and this is especially relevant when both conditions are present. 

    Some studies of Alcohol Rehabilitation Inpatient Programs have identified 25% of patients are actually ADD and ADHD, and are, essentially 'self medicating' the underlying ADD/ADHD with alcohol, and actually require treatment for the ADD/ADHD to facilitate recovery from the Alcoholism and from the Depressive Disorder. 

    In my clinical experience those with relapsing Alcoholism and Treatment Resistant Depression are highly likely to have previously undiagnosed Lifelong ADD/ADHD, and require the appropriate ADD/ADHD treatment in order to facilitate the recovery from the Alcoholism and the Depressive Disorder. 

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