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Does Drinking Make Depression Worse?

Feb. 6, 2019
Glass of wine on a table with sunlight shining on it

Yes, it can. Research informs us there is a link between depression and alcohol but there’s often the question of which came first. Does one drink to feel better or does one become depressed with excessive drinking? A number of studies have shown that alcohol abuse increases the risk for depression. This connection may be because of the effects of heavy alcohol exposure to the brain. We’ve all had friends who tried to drink away the hurt of a breakup only to have nights of excessive drinking make it worse. While it’s tempting to self-medicate with alcohol, the data suggests it’s not a useful strategy or long-term solution. Using alcohol regularly to deal with your problems can have the opposite effect and lead to feeling worse or more depression.

So, what’s one to do? When you’re feeling depressed it’s hard to want to do anything at all. If you’re finding you have little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy or feeling hopeless more often than not, then it’s time to get that check-up you’ve been putting off (start with a self-assessment). You’ll also have to ask yourself a tough question; is it worth it to cut back on drinking in order to feel better?

If that doesn’t work, stop by Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) on the 3rd floor of Campus Health to get a confidential consult with a counselor to help you sort things out. In the meantime, here are some helpful hints to feel better:

  • Exercise at Campus Rec – physical activity can lift your mood
  • Socialize, don’t isolate yourself
  • Have a heart-to-heart with a parent, good friend, trusted adult
  • Find ways to have fun without alcohol or other drugs

You don’t have to do it alone. CAPS is just a phone call away, (520) 621-3334.

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The RedCup Q&A is written by health educators in the Health Promotion Department at Campus Health.