Many people who are depressed turn towards alcohol to make them feel better, at least temporarily. Conversely, many people who use alcohol in a dependent way tend to become depressed. The classic chicken and egg situation.
Alcohol has an incredible efficiency at making life seem rosy, thats why it is so popular of course. But it is a double edged sword, because it’s also the most powerful depressant around.
Depression, whether associated with addiction or not, can be broken down into cognitive (thoughts), emotional and behavioural components.
The Cognitive component of depression is primarily concerned with a persons negative thinking, their inaccurate beliefs about themselves or the world. Depressive thoughts can be grouped in terms of four aspects of a persons life:
Their opinion of themselves –
- œIm weak (because I cant resist my cravings)
- œIm a failure
- œIm helpless (because I cant control myself)
- œeverything I do is wrong
- œIm worthless or disgusting
Their memories of the past –
- œIve never done anything right
- œIve always been unhappy
- œnothing has gone right for me
Their perception of their current life situation –
- œmy job is depressing and boring
- œmy partner is not right for me
- œI cant cope with all these demands on me
Their lack of optimism about their future –
- œwhats the point in trying to change, Im bound to fail
- œIll never be able to stop drinking
- œI havent got anything to look forward to
The Emotional component of depression is obviously characterised by feeling low, sad, hopeless, alone. But this also includes not enjoying the things that you used to enjoy, feeling apathetic or de-motivated, not feeling as much affection for others any more.
The Behavioural component encompasses the physiological changes, like disturbed sleep and altered appetite. It also includes social isolation and passivity (lying in bed all day, or just sitting in front of the TV). Of course for some people it unfortunately includes attempts at suicide too.
Being depressed as a result of your alcoholism heaps an extra layer of difficulty onto the situation. People may be filled with contempt for themselves, may feel they lack moral strength, that they are being rejected because of their problem with alcohol, or may consider they are defective or sick “ a conception promoted by the 12-step groups such as AA.