Alcohol and Depression: Is There a Link?
Alcoholic beverages are the only consumable products in the U.S. that do not have nutrition labels. Consumers are being kept in the dark about serving size, alcoholic content, calories, carbohydrates, fats, protein, cholesterol and other nutrition information. Alcohol, specifically ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is produced by fermenting the starch or sugar in various fruits and grains. Alcoholic beverages produced by fermentation and distillation include beer that is usually about 4 to 6 % alcohol, wine that is usually 7 to 15% alcohol, and hard liquor which is about 45% alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgment, memory, concentration and coordination, as well as inducing extreme mood swings and emotional outbursts. An alcohol drinker experiences mild euphoria and loss of inhibition as alcohol impairs regions of the brain controlling behavior and emotion. Alcohol acts as a sedative on the Central Nervous System, depressing the nerve cells in the brain, dulling, altering and damaging their ability to respond. Large doses cause sleep, anesthesia, respiratory failure, coma and death. Long term drinking may result in permanent brain damage and serious mental disorders. One such mental disorder is called depression. Depression is a total illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being. Some people experience difficulty with short term memory and forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking are also a characteristic of depression. Self-destructive thoughts, pessimism, excessive guilt, self-criticism, poor self-esteem, and sadness for no given reason are all symptoms of depression. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some individuals do not sleep or wake easily when experiencing depressive symptoms. Others sleep many hours or most of the day and end up still feeling tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless and can not sit still. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. Some individuals may neglect their personal appearance and fail to perform any type of basic hygiene. Sometimes people may not realize how depressed they are, especially if they have been feeling the same for a long time, if they have been trying to cope with their depression by keeping themselves busy, or if their depressive symptoms are more physical than emotional. Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends, and the inability to enjoy life are both terrible symptoms of depression. Some even wish, accomplish, or attempt to experience any type of life at all. Some of the side effects of alcohol seem to match up with symptoms of depression. Is there any link between alcohol and depression? In one study, 13892 individuals were interviewed in 1995 and 2002 as part of an alcohol and depression study (Paschall, 2004). Computer assisted in home interviews were conducted in 1995 with 20745 adolescents who were randomly selected form a larger nationally representative sample of middle and high school students in 33 states. Of the adolescents who participated in the 1995 interviews, 15197 or 73.3% were interviewed again in their homes as young adults in 2002. Respondents were asked how often in the past seven days they had experienced depressive symptoms, such as not being able to shake off the blues. There were four possible responses in terms of depression and they were compared to the possible responses on frequency and amount of alcohol usage. They study results showed that the levels of depressed moods in 2002 were lower among those who were lifetime abstainers, ex drinkers, or...
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