Most people reach out of a drink for many reasons. Others drink for relaxation, celebration or simply to take a break from the day’s work. Others drink to try and forget their problems, anxiety and pain. While alcohol may provide a temporary impact on our mood and feelings, in the long run, it can cause bigger problems for our mental health. The effect of alcohol on our mental health may range from depression, memory loss and more dangerously to suicide.
How Alcohol Affects the Brain
- Alcohol changes your brain chemistry. It is a depressant. It disrupts the delicate balance of brain chemicals and processes. The first drink may give you a pleasant and relaxed feeling. You feel at ease and confident. That is because the alcohol is starting to depress the part of your brain that is associated with inhibition. But the more you drink, many parts of your brain become affected. Negative emotional reaction will take over. You become agitated, aggressive, anxious or depressed. You easily get angry.
- Alcohol increases anxiety and stress. Regular drinking turns to heavy drinking. Heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brain. This interference will narrow your perception of events, people and situations. It makes you interpret things differently and think they are a threat to you. Like for instance you see your wife talking and laughing with some guy that you are jealous of. You interpret her behavior as flirting. You failed to notice that she had been talking and laughing with your guy friends, too.
- Alcohol abuse lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps regulate your mood. Heavy drinkers are likely to experience anxiety and depression. Alcohol depression can become a vicious cycle.
- Alcohol abuse is often linked to psychosis, suicide and self-harm. Alcohol make people lose their inhibitions and they behave impulsively. Drinking can lead to behaviors that are not normal.
- Alcohol can cause memory loss. Alcohol slows down brain processes and can impair your memory. Drinking heavily can make your brain stop recording into its “memory store.” That is why when you get drunk, you wake up without any memory of what you did the evening before. Heavy drinking for long period of time has a long-term effect on your memory. Even on days when you are not drinking, trying to remember what you did the day before will become difficult.