Do Alcoholics Suffer from Depression?

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The disease of alcoholism and mental health disorders such as depression have a complex connection. The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science around substance use disorders and states that the relationship between alcoholism and depression is well-founded.

Considering the prevalence of major depressive disorder and AUD in the general population, co-occurrence of these disorders is more frequent than can be expected based on chance. (NCBI)

Why is Alcoholism About Mental Health?

Alcoholism must be understood in order to be treated. Many people are unaware that alcoholism and addiction are mental and emotional disorders. Neither self-will nor bad interests nor behavior are to blame. Alcoholics and addicts use substances to self-medicate. Thus, it is believed by the medical community that someone who is an alcoholic was/is suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both. Poor mental health is one of the factors that cause alcoholism.

Is Alcoholism Associated With Depression?

The experts who study alcoholism explain how the brain’s reward center is impacted negatively by overconsumption of alcohol. Still, the reason that people drink alcohol is to change how they feel. Whether a person is depressed, anxious, angry, or even in a happier state of mind, they will turn to alcohol for the effects.

The reward center is a brain region that allows us to feel pleasure and to improve how that person experiences the world around us. Once the reward center is impacted negatively by the chemicals in alcohol, their mental health suffers, and they cannot feel happy without it.

Alcoholism and depression fuel each condition negatively; due to brain responses and the persons coping mechanisms.

What Does Science Say About Depression and Alcoholism?

The National Institutes of Health researchers validate that alcoholism and depression are called comorbidity, also called dual diagnosis. The rates of people being diagnosed with both these conditions are high. Today, most medical professionals’ preferred a diagnostic term for alcoholism known as alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and depressive disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders and co-occur more often than expected by chance. Studies have indicated that the co-occurrence of AUD and depressive disorders are associated with greater severity and a worse prognosis for both disorders. Both pharmacologic and behavioral treatments have demonstrated efficacy for this population. (NIH)

What Are the Symptoms of AUD and Depression?

When two mental health conditions are present, the symptoms will be combined and, most often, worse. The list of alcohol use disorder symptoms and depression symptoms will exasperate each other, and they include:

  • Inability to control drinking despite harmful consequences
  • Presence of alcohol withdrawal symptoms (shakes, anxiety, hallucinations, alcohol cravings)
  • Having negative feelings, such as sadness, crying, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Anger, frustration, or irritability, even over trivial issues
  • Most of all normal activities are no longer enjoyable
  • Insomnia and excessive sleeping
  • Thoughts or plans of suicide

What Rehab Programs Help Comorbidity?

The recommended programs for people with comorbid conditions of alcoholism and depression must be evidence-based. The therapy methods used to treat a dual diagnosis include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and rational emotive behavioral therapy.

A person must also receive in-depth counseling from a licensed substance abuse counselor. Although both depression and alcoholism are challenging disorders to face as one, our programs are proven to help people overcome their dual diagnosis.

Help for Depression and Alcoholism is HERE

Our suggested evidence-based treatment programs use proven behavioral therapy methods and in-depth counseling to help alcoholics and people with depression regain their sense of well-being. The dual diagnosis program relies on behavioral therapists to help patients gradually retrain their thoughts and emotions to reduce negative symptoms and help them recover.

Our recommended dual diagnosis programs also utilize holistic therapy, group counseling, meditation and yoga, and medication-assisted treatments. Call to speak with our New Jersey addiction interventionists today.

Medically Reviewed: October 18, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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