It is the right time to highlight the link between alcohol and mental health

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Turning Point’s Nat Travis examines the impact of alcohol on mental health.

As we move out of lockdown and prepare for more freedom, it certainly feels like the appropriate time to highlight the link between the two. Often alcohol and mental health enter into an unhealthy cycle of exacerbating each other; you may drink when you feel bad but then feel bad because you’re drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant substance which means that it affects our central nervous system and slows everything down. Like most substances, the effect of alcohol on our mood is often dependent on the mood we are in when we begin drinking, the setting in which we use alcohol and also some of the physiology of who we are as a person e.g. height, weight, gender. What we do know is that alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain which can lead to anxiety, memory loss or depression.

Trying to maintain a healthy mental wellbeing is challenging in itself, adding in the additional hurdles alcohol throws at us is like adding extra weight to your backpack when running up hill. It may not be the root cause of the challenges you face, but it certainly doesn’t make things easier.

It’s important we all take the time to look after our mental health; regular exercise, eating healthy and enough sleep are often the foundations. Drinking excessively doesn’t lend itself to the foundations of good mental health, like high-calorie, high-sugar alcoholic drinks or being too hungover to exercise.

People often use alcohol as a ‘social lubrication’ or the old ‘Dutch courage’, helping them to ease into meeting and greeting new people, but over time regularly drinking too much and binge drinking can lead to becoming isolated and withdrawn for some individuals.

Anxiety can make social occasions difficult and at times drinking starts to affect relationships with those around us. It isn’t uncommon these days to hear a story about a family member or friend who had one drink too many and embarrassed themselves, but if this is happening all the time then you can begin to feel shame.

Read the full blog post here.


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This content was created by Turning Point