Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol and Mental Health

Whilst alcohol seems to help us de-stress and feel happier in the short term, the euphoric feeling alcohol provides is only a temporary release. Regularly drinking over 14 units weekly can not only negatively impact our physical health but our mental health too.

Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 of us will report experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression in any given week.
With alcohol being described as ‘the UK’s favourite coping mechanism’ and 1 in 3 people during lockdown saying they drank alcohol to manage stress and anxiety, the topic of mental health has never been more significant.
In simple terms, alcohol is a depressant, the more we drink, the greater the impact on our brain function. Despite enabling us to feel more confident and relaxed in the short-term alcohol has been linked to aggressive, anxious and depressive behaviours.
For those of us who experience symptoms of anxiety or depression, the dreaded hangover can be known to exacerbate these, making the days ahead feel almost unbearable. For some the hangover will come and go and these feelings will be barely noticeable, but for many, the hangover can cause “Hangxiety” and increased feelings of agitation. Alcohol is also a diuretic and dehydration has also been linked to changes in mood and fatigue across both men and women.

By maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol you will notice the following benefits, all of which have a direct and/or indirect impact on mental health:

· Improved sleep – Inadequate sleep can cause irritability and heighten stress. When we have poor sleep we often feel “grumpy” the next day, finding it hard to muster up enthusiasm and function. Inadequate sleep and mood disorders are closely linked with both negatively impacting on each other. Sleeplessness impacts mood, however poor mood can impede sleep, add alcohol to the mix and we have a recipe for disaster.
· Improved physical health – Regularly drinking above 14units can increase the risk of more serious long-term health conditions such as: liver disease, stomach ulcers and cancers. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems.

· Increased energy – Reducing our alcohol consumption can improve our energy levels. It’s normal to feel less sluggish, less irritable and to feel more motivated. We are also more likely to reap the rewards from exercise. Exercise can improve mental alertness and the release of our feel-good hormones, our friends “Endorphins”.
· Healthier appearance – It is likely that our skin will be brighter and our faces more likely to be wearing a smile. Rid of the headaches and fatigue, we are more likely to find enjoyment in things. We are also less likely to be craving salty foods and eliminating calories. Making sure we have the right nutrients in our diet is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel.

To learn more about how you can create a healthier relationship with alcohol sign up to our Drink Less pathway here

Laura Bell, Drink Less Lead

November 10, 2020

Back to latest news