Depression and alcoholism often go together, but which causes which is a chicken-and-egg kind of question. As I know all too well from personal experience that a couple of drinks can break down your inhibitions and give you feelings of confidence, well-being and even euphoria. If you’re feeling depressed anyway, that sounds pretty good. However that euphoria can suddenly be followed by complete dread, hoplesness, and self-deprecation.
But alcohol is a known depressant. The mechanisms by which alcohol causes depression are biological–and therefore inescapable. To start, alcohol temporarily blunts the effects of stress hormones; that’s one reason why we lose our inhibitions. But it also depresses the activities of the brain and nervous system. Studies shave shown that alcohol lowers the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Both these chemicals are neurotransmitters–chemicals that help nerve impulses travel along the nervous system. Abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity can affect mood and behavior. In fact, there’s a whole class of antidepressant drugs (they’re called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs) that increase the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the body. Although isn’t not clear exactly why these drugs work, it’s thought that these higher levels of serotonin and norepinephrine enhance neurotransmission and therefore elevate mood. That’s a complicated way of saying that, chemically speaking, alcohol does exactly the opposite of what antidepressants do in the body. One study of alcohol and depression looked at people who had just one drink a day–not all that much. After three months with absolutely no alcohol, their scores on standard depression inventories improved. That is why it doesn’t matter how much you drink, the question remains, “How does the alcohol effect you when you do drink?” Without getting caught up in labels, if whether you are an alcoholic or not, if you are continuing to drink when it makes you depressed, that is insanity. That is why alcoholism is a “thinking disease”.
Alcohol has also been linked genetically to depression. So people who have a tendency to be clinically depressed also have a tendency to become dependant on alcohol. It’s thought that heavy alcohol use can actually activate a gene that has been linked to depression and other mental health issues.
So, chemically speaking, the deck is stacked against the chances of drinking making you feel less depressed. In fact, it’s going to make you feel more depressed. It’s sobriety that’s going to make you feel better.
High bottom drinkers have a very difficult time quitting because they truly believe it is the amount or how often they drink that determines if they have a problem. I never had to drink much to feel depressed. Is it worth it? I think not. Stop fooling yourself and remember, if your life is feeling like it is full or despair, frustration, and emotional pain, maybe it is time to get out of denial, and into a solution. Try not drinking for a week and see if your mood improves? Then make the decision is alcohol working or working against you in your life?
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and for Celebrity Rehab. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters, is a sought after speaker and has developed recovery and life coaching packages for anyone who is ready to move forward in their life. Vist Sherry at www.sgabatherapy.com for information about life coaching, teleseminars, and webinars.
Friday I was screaming of joy when I learned from my editor that Deepak Chopra had endorsed my book. Although, it will not be on the book cover because the book has been printed already, it will appear in other promotions.
“Sherry Gaba’s book, The Law of Sobriety, is a masterpiece. It will help millions of people who are struggling in recovery. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to lead a sober, sane and creative life.”
Author, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul
All I could think about is the essence of humility. “In every AA Story, pain was the entrance ticket into a new life. But we received much more with this “ticket” than what we expected. We were led to an attitude of humility that soon turned out to be a pain-healer. We slowly stopped being so afraid that we longed for nothing more than humility.” Bill W.
When I think of humility, I think of gratitude. In my book, “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” I write “The more you express appreciation for what you already have, the better chance you have of receiving more of the same blessings.”
There have many people that have supported me in the last year in writing my book, my editor, publisher, Dr. Drew Pinsky, my publicist, my husband , daughter, and parents (of course) and all my friends who I miss because I have been so busy, I haven’t seen them as often as I would like. I am so grateful to all of them for their un-conditional support and understanding.
However, one thing is for sure, I am reminded of the 7th step and there are times I have to let go of that ego of mine and turn it over to my higher power. When I get caught up in ego gratification and needing recognition, I have to go back to remembering my original intention in writing this book was to help others, not just to get a pat on the back. It seems when I remember that, blessings begin to appear. like getting an endorsement from Deepak Chopra.
Humility is at the core of spiritual recovery. I believe this quote by Eckhart Tolle expresses the gifts of gratitude and humility the best.
“Whatever you think people are withholding from you….praise, appreciation, assistance, loving care, and so on…..give it to them. You don’t have it? Just act as if you had it, and it will come. Then, soon after you start giving, you will start receiving. You cannot receive what you don’t give.”
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in private practice and Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Visit Sherry at www.sgabatherapy.com for information about her life coaching programs, teleseminars, webinars, and read her blogs at Counselor Magazine.com and her Law of Sobriety blog.
As a single mother of a twenty-six year old woman since she was one years old, I was outraged by Jennifer Aniston’s remark that men are optional in child rising. Although this is a blog on addictions, I felt I needed to take a stand on this topic. I was outraged because I don’t think she understands the ramifications both emotionally and financially of raising a child on your own. She is in another league compared to most women with her celebrity status and her comment is unrealistic of what it encompasses to raise children alone.
I am also a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and I meet single parents all the time, besides myself, that struggle with the hardship and pain that having a family without a father can bring into the family. I am not saying it can’t be done, but it must be a decision that is thought out extremely carefully understanding what it entails. One quarter of single mothers live below the poverty line. Jennifer Aniston does not have to worry about that given her financial resources.
The issue is that many celebrities make statements without really understanding the impact and influence it has on those who follow their example. I have discussed this in great depth how dangerous it is when celebrities role model behavior that glamorize drug addiction or when they role model body images that are unrealistic and in most cases dangerous for anyone to follow. Now Jennifer is role modeling single parenting.
I realize many women become single parents not by choice if they become a widow or go through a divorce, as I did. However, to make a cavalier statement that men are optional is insensitive and degrading to what a father can bring to a family. I struggled disciplining my child without having a partner to support me. Luckily, my parents were instrumental in helping support me financially at times, which gave my daughter many opportunities most children of single parents don’t have. For example, she was able to take dance lessons, which can be very costly, because I had some help from my parents.
With economic times as shaky as they are today, how awful it must be for single parents who loses their job and has no one to help them with the bare necessities. How scary it must be for a child to not know where their next meal will come from or where they are going to live.
I will never forget the look on my daughter’s face when the school was having a Daddy and me Bowling Day. She didn’t have a Daddy to take bowling and it was heartbreaking. I will never forget my daughter not having a dad to go to her open houses, her birthday parties, father’s day, and a host of other significant times in her life where she needed her dad.
Although my daughter has a relationship with her dad, he moved 3,000 miles away from her which made it difficult for both her and her father. I had to remind myself almost daily I couldn’t be a father and a mother, but could only be the best mother I could be. It was still painful and I would not wish that on anyone. So Jennifer, wake up and smell the coffee. Children deserve to have two parents if possible and although single parenting can be done successfully, I do not feel it is optimum for a child. In fact, in some cases I think it is selfish and Jennifer Aniston should think twice before she makes comments that can be detrimental to a child’s life.