Why drinking worsens mental health issues and how brain health is affected.
Okay, fact check real quick...did you know that 1 in 4 adults will suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition in a given year? Even more shocking, over 50% of the population will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime.
So, that means I have a 50% chance of writing this blog post to a reader who might be suffering from a mental health disorder. The reality is mental illness is so common now, everyone knows that. If you're one of the lucky ones who hasn't experienced your own mental health issues, first of all, can we trade lives? and secondly, you probably know someone who has suffered or is suffering from them.
Another thing that many people know is that alcohol is awful for your body. It does nothing good for our physical being. Yet, we drink anyway and often consume large amounts at any given time, because of the need or desire to obtain the effects of alcohol. But, what if I told you that alcohol is even worse for your brain. You may know this, or you may not. You might be one of those people who don't really read a lot into brain health or you're not super into mental health. Thats totally okay.
Here are some shocking facts about our brains when we consume alcohol:
1. Obviously, drinking leads to memory loss...duh, blacking out happens to over 51% of drinkers. When you black out, you are damaging the part of your brain that controls your memory. Think of your memory as a sponge. When you drink, the memory sponge absorbs all the alcohol and it takes a long time to get rid of it. With age, memory problems become prevalent.
2. Alcohol speeds up a neurotransmitter called, glutamate, which is responsible for regulating dopamine, the happy hormone. So, its no surprise, when you drink, you get a warm, fuzzy feeling and usually feel really good while partaking. BUT, the next morning when you've stopped drinking, you're deficient in this, leading to those nasty mood swings and irritable thoughts.
3. Drinking a lot over a long period of time can actually shrink your brain volume. I am not even making this up, but WOW. Its common sense, a smaller brain= less capacity for crucial brain activity.
4. As we drink consistently over time, we become more tolerant to certain amounts of alcohol. So, a lot of people end up drinking not to feel good anymore, but to avoid feeling bad. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Now, I've given you some scary facts about our brains and alcohol. There are so many more reasons why our brain health is extremely susceptible to alcohol and the adverse effects it can have. If you know this information, you can see the direct link between drinking and mental health and why the two should never be mixed. Even more important, why drinking should never be used as a crutch or cure for mental health illness.
Mental health illnesses will only worsen will the addition of alcohol. It might be the worst thing someone struggling can choose to turn to. However, drinking is one of the most available, easy, quickest alternatives to forget we even have a mental health issue in the first place.
There needs to be more education on this subject. Too often, people can't properly deal with their mental health conditions because they are adding alcohol into their bodies and brains. The two are like oil and water, they don't mix well.