Problem Drinking – Why Alcohol Alters Your Mood

Most of us need a bit of Dutch courage every now and again, especially when facing a situation that makes us fearful or anxious: having to give a speech to a room full of people (or even just a handful!), asking someone we’re attracted to dance, or even to go out on a date… in such situations, alcohol can seem like the Cavalry, rescuing us at a vital time, giving us the confidence to ‘take the step’…

But why does having a drink or two do the trick? What is it about alcohol – or rather, what is it in alcoholic drinks – that alters our mental state (for better or worse)?

Alcohol can:

  • Help us to feel relaxed
  • Lead to a loss of inhibitions
  • Heighten anxiety (after an initial period of relief from tension has passed)
  • Cause low mood and even severe depression
  • Be a factor in poor judgement
  • Lead to promiscuous behaviour, and
  • Make us aggressive

The reason alcohol plays a key role in these behaviours is because, for the brain, it is both a depressant and a stimulant. Forbes Magazine contributor, David DiSalvo, offers a more scientific explanation:

“Alcohol directly affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters: the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that control thought processes, behaviour and emotion. Alcohol affects both excitatory neurotransmitters and inhibitory transmitters.”

About other damage alcohol can do
If, every day, we stopped for a moment to think about the amount of harm alcohol can do to our bodies (even when imbibed moderately, to ‘sensible’ levels), most of us would probably never touch a drop of drink again. But the reality is that we think the health problems, conditions and diseases listed below “will happen to other people”, not us:

  • High blood pressure
  • Malnutrition
  • Gastritis and stomach bleeding
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Numerous psychiatric conditions (all of which will require some form of treatment)
  • Skin problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • Muscle disease
  • Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can result in birth defects
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • (irreversible) Severely impaired brain function

If you abuse alcohol, surely, having read through all that, cutting down on the amount you drink is something you should seriously think about?

Help is available RIGHT NOW
The way to steer clear of – or to at least seriously reduce your risk of suffering from – all the aforementioned health physical and mental health problems is to decrease your regular alcohol consumption to an absolute minimum.

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