CASE STUDY: Persia in Sandbanks
Sandbanks in Dorset… What a place. In Britain, it’s where the rich live; wealthy people such as 34-year-old interior designer, Persia: “By the national media, Sandbanks is often described as Britain’s Palm Beach. Sandbanks Beach and the property here is highly regarded. It also has plenty of pubs and bars – where, for me, my problems with alcohol actually began.”
Rehab is not all about physical health
When Persia entered a private Alcoholism Rehab clinic in Dorset (for a five-week stay) last year, her absence from the Sandbanks hostelries did not go unnoticed by the regulars. “They thought I had gone to Rehab to – as one of them put it upon my return – ‘save my liver from total annihilation’, but the real reason I sort help was to address problems with my mental health.”
Persia had battled depressive Illness since 2004, when she lost a dear family member in the Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami. Prior to that, she’d been teetotal. “Before I started drinking, I was already depressed,” she explains. “I began drinking as a way of self-medicating. But then I found myself in a vicious circle. The self-medicating drinking deepened my depression.”
So how do you know if you’re depressed?
Depression is a serious illness. Although each individual sufferer’s experience of depression is different, common typical symptoms and behaviours include:
· Erratic sleep: sleeping very little or too much, and having no control over this
· Irritability and aggression
· Feeling worthless and that life is hopeless, meaningless, pointless
· Loss of appetite, or an inability to stop binge eating, particularly comfort foods, such as cake, ice cream, and large heavy meals
· A sense of emptiness and despair (and sometimes a feeling of impending doom)
· Finding it an uphill battle just to get through the day
· Suicidal thoughts
The risk for depression is higher in heavy drinkers
The link between alcohol abuse and disturbed brain function (inducing concerning emotional states, such as depression and anxiety) has been proven in countless studies performed on samples worldwide, although – due to the brain’s complexity – establishing exactly how alcohol creates low mood is extremely difficult to achieve.
There is overwhelming evidence, however, that the risk for depression is significantly higher in individuals who regularly drink heavily – the direct neurotoxin effects of heavy alcohol exposure to the brain produce behaviour and symptoms that depression sufferers commonly display.
Drowning your sorrows never works
Drinking to feel better can actually intensify your depression rather than helping to cheer you up or to get a good night’s sleep (heavy drinking only leads to disturbed and disrupted sleep, in fact).
Binge drinking to try to escape from your worries and troubles creates new problems that increase anxiety and reduce energy levels overall, as Persia in Sandbanks found: “I reached a point where I could barely face getting out of bed. And even when I did, it would take me up to an hour to get dressed. Yes, small doses of alcohol can create joviality and enhanced social confidence, but as consumption becomes heavier, the drinker can become maudlin, morose and uncommunicative (hard to reach). Well, that is certainly the impact that binge drinking had on me. Going to Rehab saved my life.”