Alcohol and mental health problems are closely linked. There is evidence that mental health problems can result from drinking too much. But there is also evidence that mental health problems can cause people to drink too much. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to serious physical and mental illnesses, including cancer.
Alcohol can change our mood and, therefore, our mental state. Alcohol may temporarily relieve feelings of anxiety and depression and can also temporarily relieve the symptoms of more serious mental health problems. Drinking to help deal with feelings is sometimes referred to as ‘self-medication’ however because it is a depressant and can impact on an individual’s mental state, drinking alcohol can make existing mental health problems worse.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and this can make us less inhibited in our behaviour. It can also help ‘numb’ our emotions, so we can avoid difficult issues in our lives. It can also reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people become angry or aggressive when drinking.
Read the NHS self-help guide, Alcohol and You