Monday, December 10, 2007

Depression and Drinking

Depression and stopping drinking
There is evidence that, although many heavy drinkers feel depressed when they are drinking, most will feel better within a few weeks of stopping. So, it is usually best to tackle the alcohol first, and then consider dealing with the depression if it has not lifted after a few weeks.

After a few alcohol-free weeks, you will probably feel fitter and less depressed. Friends and family may find you easier to get on with. If your feelings of depression lift, this strongly suggests that they were caused by the drinking.

If the depression is still with you after four weeks of not drinking, talk to your GP or about further help. It may be useful to talk about your feelings, particularly if your depression seems linked to relationship problems, unemployment, divorce, bereavement or some other loss. Counselling may be helpful.

If the depression does not lift and is particularly severe, your general practitioner may recommend a talking treatment called 'cognitive psychotherapy' or suggest anti-depressant medication. In either case, you will need to stay away from alcohol and go on with the treatment for several months. There are some medications used to reduce the craving for alcohol, but these are usually only prescribed by a specialist.

Treatment for both alcohol problems and depression can be very successful. It helps to regularly see someone you can trust, either your own doctor, counsellor or a specialist psychiatrist. Changing our habits and style of life is always a challenge and takes time to achieve.

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