Many of us enjoy drinking alcohol in moderation, for many different reasons, but consuming too much alcohol can have a negative effect on our mental health.
Equally, if you have a mental health illness, you may be more inclined to drink alcohol to cope with your symptoms. This is known as ‘self-medication’ and can make existing problems worse.
Alcohol affects your brain chemistry. You may end up in a damaging cycle, drinking alcohol because you feel depressed, but heavy consumption may make you feel more depressed.
As it’s a depressant, drinking too much alcohol can affect our mental health as well as our physical health.
Many of us are aware of hangover symptoms, but the long-term effects can be debilitating depending on how much, and how often, you drink. These include:
- Needing to drink more alcohol to feel good
- Becoming dependent on the alcohol
- Mood changes
- Loss of motivation
There are also physical effects if you’re dependent on alcohol. These can include:
- Shaking or trembling
- Racing heart rate
If you experience any of these due to alcohol habits, you should speak to your GP.
If you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help, call the Single Point of Access on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, you can call NHS 111 free from a landline or mobile phone.
In the first instance, you should speak to your GP if you’re concerned about your drinking. They will be able to signpost you to the most appropriate support. They may decide that talking therapies, such as Open Minds, may help you if you are feeling depressed.
North East Lincolnshire Council have a Wellbeing Service offer one to one support to see if you are drinking in a risky or harmful way and, if you want, to help you cut down on how much you are drinking. To arrange a meeting or speak to someone about your options, please call (01472) 325500 or text ‘Wellbeing’ to 60060 and they will call you back.
There's also a specialist national helpline for anyone over the age of 50 who may be worried about either their own drinking, or that of a loved one. Call 0808 8010750 or visit the We Are With You website.
Drink Aware: Find out if you’re drinking too much and understand the health benefits if you reduce your alcohol intake.
We Are With You: Get help and advice on managing your alcohol intake, with tips on reducing cravings, setting realistic goals and much more.
Alcohol Change UK: Every day, 20 people die as a result of their drinking. But alcohol harm is not inevitable. Find help and support.