Depression is a common complaint about individuals seeking medical attention in the USA. Over 25 million Americans go to a doctor’s office for antidepressants as the treatment of depression. Depression affects people of all ages and depression can lead to some very serious consequences. About 13 per cent of senior citizens has some kind of depression. Often these individuals are alone with no social support of any kind. In this age cohort, about 20 per cent of seniors is prone to suicides. If you compare elder suicide with the general population whereby 11 in every 1,000,000 individuals commit suicide, 20 percent of seniors committing suicide becomes the highest risk group. Furthermore, among the general population, more women are prone to depression than men.
There are many reasons for depression among the general population from major depression to seasonal affected depression. Unfortunately many of these individuals turn to alcohol and drugs to self medicate. When certain individuals are bombarded with too much stress and anxiety they turn to alcohol and drugs to relieve their stress and anxiety.
Alcohol consumption has adverse effects on the brain. Alcohol has been found to lower the normal levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for moods, lower levels of these transmitters actually act as a depressant and instead of giving the individual relief from stress and anxiety. alcohol will make the individual even more depressed. Furthermore, many doctors misdiagnose alcohol and drug induced depressions for other forms of depression.
What alcohol does to the body is that it will suppress the natural stress hormones leaving an individual feeling worse than he or she did before consuming this drug. Alcohol suppresses the nervous system as well as the brain, thus disrupting the normal balance of neurotransmitters responsible for healthy moods or emotions. Studies have shown that even a moderate drinker, consuming only one alcohol beverage a day will score higher on the standard depression inventories if he or she stops drinking for a period of three months prior to taking the questionnaire.
Older individuals lose folic acid as they age which increases the risk of various diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Alcohol reduces the levels of folic acid in the brain and since people with depression have lower levels to begin with this situation only serves to make the underlying depression even worse. Alcohol will also speed up the breakdown of antioxidants in the bloodstream and speeds the process of elimination from the body.
Alcohol and drugs like cocaine will go hand in hand, with depression and different mental disorders as well. Studies show that men develop depression after using alcohol, whereas females are reported as having depression first. Take away the alcohol consumption or other drugs and social deviants and the men and women will fare out equally in terms of developing depression. This further shows how alcohol and drugs can disguise or acerbate the symptoms of depression. Drugs and alcohol have also been implicated in suicides. Drugs and alcohol can heighten the depression, numb feelings, impair logic and cognitive functioning and numb the fear of actually taking your own life. Drugs and alcohol can worsen mental depression by creating reckless behaviour. The odds of attempting suicide are doubled among alcohol and drug users.