Alcohol and Depression: How Are They Connected?

alcohol depression and anger

The study included 67 undergraduate men who were currently dating someone. There are a number of cognitive, neurobiological, and social factors that can influence how alcohol affects aggression. This article discusses some of the facts behind the stereotype of the “angry drunk” and explores the connection between anger and alcohol. By Sarah Bence, OTR/LSarah Bence, difference between crack and coke OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and freelance writer. She specializes in a variety of health topics including mental health, dementia, celiac disease, and endometriosis. Researchers agree that alcohol and depression have a bidirectional relationship, meaning that depression can cause overuse of alcohol, but overuse of alcohol can also cause depression.

As a positive, unalarming emotion and one that others are used to seeing, however, happiness isn’t on the radar as much as anger. Alcohol is known for its ability to amplify emotional expression and inhibition. While it may seem like anger is the most common emotion caused by alcohol, it may not be that straightforward. By Buddy TBuddy T is a writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.

  1. In some cases, you may receive a dual diagnosis of a major depressive disorder (MDD) and an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  2. Don’t stop taking an antidepressant or other medication just so that you can drink.
  3. CBT is a diverse psychotherapy that focuses on identifying unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and creating new, helpful patterns of thinking and feeling.
  4. According to Kennedy, for those taking antidepressants, combining them with alcohol can reduce their efficacy.

Some individuals may consider alcohol’s effects to be more of a stimulant, meaning that after a drink or two, they loosen up and are ready to go out, socialize, or relax. While this effect may be true for some individuals, after a few drinks, the depressant effects of alcohol start to make their appearance. Consuming alcohol can serve as a distraction from a range of negative feelings, including anger. And all too often, as in Ryan’s case, it reflects displacement, directing anger toward a target that is not the source of an individual’s original anger. Under the influence of alcohol, those already predisposed toward anger may vent or, more seriously, direct their anger toward a target that might be experienced as less threatening than the original target.

According to Kennedy, for those taking antidepressants, combining them with alcohol can reduce their efficacy. The NHS website, Every Mind Matters, has advice on how to access support and treatment for depression in England. This includes options for NHS support, links to charities, helplines and communities, and tips on self-care. Signs to look out for include things like continuous low mood or sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, having no motivation or interest in things, and – for some people – thoughts about harming themselves. If you need urgent help with your mental health, you don’t have to struggle alone. Extreme happiness, or euphoria, is another common experience during drinking.

Why does alcohol make some people angry?

Because of the established link between aggression and alcohol, co-treatments have been developed that can also address anger while drinking. Another study of 249 heavy drinkers similarly found that alcohol intoxication predicted higher levels of IPV in those who reported low psychological flexibility (Grom et al., 2021). Intimate partner violence is of great concern when it comes to alcohol and anger. Violence can occur in marriages, long-term partnerships, and dating relationships. One study of people with both AUD and depression undergoing treatment for both conditions found that the majority of symptom improvement for both conditions happened during the first three weeks of treatment. Drinking alcohol can become a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of hopelessness, numbness, guilt, and worthlessness.

Reach out to a mental health professional to talk about treatment and strategies for dealing with depression. Major depressive disorder involves persistent and prolonged symptoms, but depression, in general, takes on many different forms. Depressive symptoms can result from life stressors, mental health conditions, medical conditions, and other factors.

alcohol depression and anger

Alcohol, like fatigue, diminished sleep, stress, and certain drugs, inhibits the activation of the prefrontal cortex, that part of our brain responsible for problem-solving, judgment, and overseeing and managing emotions. This disinhibiting aspect of alcohol in effect paves the way for feelings to dominate thoughts and behavior. Some of the biological factors that contribute to alcoholism may also play a role in increasing the risk of intimate partner violence.

Why is anger so common among people who drink?

In his case, he was already predisposed to anger arousal before he had his first drink. Over time, your brain’s reward pathway builds tolerance and requires more and more dopamine (via alcohol) to feel pleasure. This can lead to addiction and feelings of depression in the absence of the rewarding substance. Alcohol consumption can lead to feelings of depression due to chemical reactions. In the short term, drinking alcohol can make you feel good, sociable, and even euphoric.

“Depression and alcohol misuse are often tied because we take a depressant to counter a chemical depression which only makes it worse.” If you’re still experiencing symptoms of depression after a few weeks, the NHS advises you to contact your GP surgery. Alcohol use and anger can both be treated using psychotherapy approaches rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). If you find yourself in a are psychedelics addictive situation with someone who is angry while intoxicated, the first step is to assess your level of risk. There’s a difference in safety between someone who is expressing anger verbally and one who has become physically aggressive. Extreme emotions that are usually hidden from others, like anger and sadness, may be more noticeable when you drink because you’re less able to conceal and manage them.

On the flip side of this, an individual who maintains a generally calm demeanor while sober, yet displays actions of anger and stress after drinking, can also indicate an alcohol use disorder. Anger expression may also be confused with aggression or hostility, two consequences of drinking commonly cited in research. Identifying those factors that might contribute to heightened anger when consuming alcohol is important for individuals who have anger issues and those who treat them. People who tend to ignore the future consequences of their behavior, or score low on the Consideration of Future Consequences (CFC) scale, have been found to display more aggression. One study found that chronic alcohol use decreases the function in the prefrontal cortex, which plays a key role in impulse control. If you have a natural tendency to be angry, drinking alcohol may cause you to become aggressive.

Alcohol and depression

If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol there is a lot of help available. Here you can find useful links and phone numbers to get the support you need. Alcohol slows down processes in your brain and central nervous system, and can initially make you feel less inhibited.7 In the short-term, you might feel more relaxed – but these effects wear off quickly.

Researchers surveyed 175 young adults who mixed alcohol with caffeinated energy drinks about their verbal and physical aggression in bar conflicts. Results showed enough escalation in people consuming these drinks to label the beverages a “potential risk” to increased hostility. It is important to note that medications for alcohol use disorder are a first-line treatment. If you’re dealing with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and hallucinations, among others, then your doctor may suggest medications such as chlordiazepoxide or other benzodiazepines. Though depression is experienced by many, it can often go undiagnosed and untreated. You don’t have to battle the depression alone and relying on alcohol to make you feel better will only cause further pain.

GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a receptor in the brain that directly influences your cognitive and inhibitory actions. What that means is GABA has an effect on functions such as fine motor skills, speech, sight, reaction time, natural inhibitions, and emotions. This can also be responsible for the stimulating feeling some individuals get when drinking alcohol. Even though they may feel more awake and energetic, this is simply a false mask put on by your brain to cover the fatigue alcohol is genuinely causing. Specifically, it found that problematic drinkers may be more likely to attend to aggressogenic stimuli while intoxicated, and that is, they were more likely to experience certain cues as aggressive.

Alcohol can produce feelings of euphoria and excitement, making you feel instantly happier and more confident, but those feelings are fleeting. Much like barbiturates (sedatives), alcohol is a drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and the brain’s functionality. A good way of keeping track of how much you’re drinking – to help spot patterns, avoid your triggers and stay within the low risk drinking guidelines – is with the MyDrinkaware app. But for some people, these feelings don’t go away – they get worse and their feelings of depression can start to interfere with everyday life.

How Does Alcohol Use Interact With Anger?

When they come out, others notice them because they’re not a part of the everyday social experience. Research has shown that thought suppression may contribute to alcohol-related aggression. One study supporting this finding enlisted 245 men with a history of heavy episodic alcohol use (Berke et al., 2020). They completed surveys assessing their endorsement of traditional masculine norms, use of thought suppression, and both trait and alcohol-related aggression. It was found that thought suppression mediated the association between the toughness masculine norm and alcohol-related aggression. In a 2017 report, researchers shared their findings of the relationship between alcohol and dating violence.

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