Why does Alcohol Cause Anxiety and Depression?

Alcohol dependence syndrome, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder are independent disorders. They can be encountered both separately and all together. In the latter case, they worsen each other’s course.

Why does it happen?

  • Alcohol affects the brain and changes the level of serotonin, glutamate, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that are involved in the regulation of mood and nervous system activity.
  • Alcohol decreases the brain activity and worsens the transmission of nerve impulses. Thus, depressive episodes may be more severe and longer.
  • Anxiety and depression may be part of withdrawal syndrome or the so-called hangover. If a person has been drinking in large amounts for a long time and then suddenly quit, their nervous system becomes irritable. Its response to external stimuli increases thus causing anxiety. Depressive states occur due to the fact that the body does not produce the sufficient amount of dopamine without alcohol.
  • A person who has already had anxiety disorder or depression starts drinking alcohol to ‘drown’ the symptoms instead of undergoing treatment. In the meantime, the disorder keeps developing, and the effect of ethanol on the brain aggravates everything even more.

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