Alcoholism and depression

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Depressed? Are you drinking to forget or to cope, or perhaps even both?

Alcoholism and depression all too often go hand-in-hand.

Life's troubles, including relationship problems, require huge emotional resources you may not feel able to conjure up (anymore). And that may have led to your drinking too much.

No wonder you're feeling miserable!

Why do I care? Because both conditions have an enormous impact on an intimate couple relationship (and potentially any relationship). A failing relationship can lead to depression and you may therefore reach for the bottle.

Don't worry -  I'm not here to judge. really hope I can help you break out of that vicious circle.

There are plenty of resources on my site to help you do that, and I'll be with you every step of the way. For now, let's get to grips with how alcoholism is linked with depression.

Alcohol bottles

First, I'd recommend that you have a look at my page on the Symptoms of Alcoholism to help you understand the link between your drinking (or that of your partner) and your feeling so miserable. I'll still be here when you get back.

Are you just miserable or are you suffering from depression?

I'd like you to now look at my page on the Signs of Depression, where I've detailed what I check with clients who come to me for counselling for their depression.

When you're back here let's look at the link between alcoholism and depression...

Alcoholism and depression

Below is a list of common questions that your doctor or counsellor might ask you to find out if you're suffering from depression. I explain how symptoms are linked with alcoholism.

I'd like you to read this alongside the article Alcoholism Stages as it has a personal account from Chris, a 'recovered alcoholic'. (Although I really don't like that term! It sort of keeps someone rooted in the condition.)

Do you feel down most of the time?

Chris tells the story of his ups and down, how low his self-esteem was and how his relationships failed. In the end he felt he had nothing to look forward to. He felt lonely, even around other people. The drink took all that made life worthwhile.  

Do you recognise your own situation and feelings in his story?

You're born to connect with other people. Giving and receiving attention, a sense of community and intimate relationships are all essential emotional needs - vital to our mental well-being.

If you're no longer able to meet these needs, then it's no surprise that you're depressed.

I so want you to feel better. You deserve it - regardless of what you might think yourself. You are here because of your unique talents, there is no one like you! The world is waiting for you!

Do you feel sad all the time?

If you have a significant alcohol problem, you may well have good reasons to feel sad. You may have lost a great deal in your life already, depending on what stage you're at.

Chris describes how he suffered from "self-pity on steroids"!

Sadness is very common in both alcoholism and depression.

Please note though: as a counsellor I've too often seen people who had been misdiagnosed as suffering from depression.

If you've suffered a significant loss in your life it is normal to feel sad!  

Of course you're feeling sad if someone has died, or you sadly lost your family because of the drink, you've lost your job and you've lost control to the alcohol addiction. We all grieve over losses.

Just think though how you grieve. It becomes troublesome if you feel persecuted and paranoid. It's likely to be the alcohol talking if you make a major drama out of it without any insight or attempt at problem solving.

Remember my earlier call to action?

Oh, before I forget... if you suspect that your troubles started after a major trauma, have a look at this page on the symptoms of trauma.

Has your appetite changed?

If you're drinking too much then you increasingly get your calories from the alcohol. They're 'empty' calories, there is no nourishment in alcohol.

Have you also stopped caring about eating healthy nutritious food?

If you aren't bothered about eating properly, this will of course change your appetite. 

People who are depressed in any case tend to either over-eat (comfort eating) or under-eat. The link between alcoholism and depression is again quite clear.

Read on to Part 2 for more Signs of Alcoholism and Depression, and to continue with these important questions which can help you work out how you're feeling right now.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Images courtesy of: Arthur Caranta