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10 Ways Alcohol Might Affect Your Depression or Anxiety

Long before I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was a typical student — I’d have a drink between classes, or drink with friends on a Friday night. For the most part, this was OK. Alcohol helped release my inhibitions, and I had a good time. But if I was already feeling depressed, I’d usually end the night in tears. If I was already feeling anxious, I’d retreat into a socially detached shell, watching from a distance while everybody else had fun. Then there’s the morning after, and the crushing anxiety that I’d said or done something “weird” — thanks, bullying trauma — and “made a fool of myself.”

Alcohol is a double-edged sword. After my father died, I relied on it a little too much to get me through, and I know, looking back, that there was a dangerous time when I could’ve gone over that edge into alcohol dependence. After that, I stopped drinking as much. I only drink occasionally, now — typically at home, thanks to COVID-19 — and only for the enjoyment of it. I know that it affects my mental health, so keeping it at one or two is enough for me to still enjoy the taste, or the slight buzz it gives.

I’m not alone in this experience. That’s why we asked our Let’s Talk Depression group how alcohol affects their depression or anxiety. No matter what, it’s important to practice safe drinking, and to reach out to someone you trust if you think you might have a problem.

Here’s what they said:

“If I have a drink with dinner, or occasionally two, I don’t notice any difference. More than that and I’ll often end up crying about something. Wine especially makes me sad drunk. I have to be careful about that.” — @karaskernel

“Every time without fail, escaping or numbing with alcohol , or even just enjoying a glass of wine

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Long before I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was a typical student — I’d have a drink between classes, or drink with friends on a Friday night. For the most part, this was OK. Alcohol helped release my inhibitions, and I had a good time. But if I was already feeling depressed, I’d usually end the night in tears. If I was already feeling anxious, I’d retreat into a socially detached shell, watching from a distance while everybody else had fun. Then there’s the morning after, and the crushing anxiety that I’d said or done something “weird” — thanks, bullying trauma — and “made a fool of myself.”
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