Using Alcohol as an Antidepressant
Okay, so I’m actually not a big fan of Tequila after a long drunken night and horrible hangover in college, but, I do like to drink alcohol. I went from drinking one or two craft beers a night to more than I want to admit on a nightly basis. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t walk around drunk all of the time, and I don’t need it to function, but I enjoy drinking beer. Although, some of you may know that even the slightest amount of alcohol can make a huge difference in your mental state especially when you have a mood disorder like a bipolar disease.
Depressant OR Antidepressant?
Many people drink alcohol as a means to relieve stress and coop with everyday or long term depression and anxiety. Although this is true for many, alcohol is, in fact, a depressant. Common antidepressant medication such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa, are used to treat chronic depression by stabilizing your mood. There is where the problem is revealed, many individuals, including myself, use alcohol as another way to self-medicate even when taking prescribed antidepressants.
Those with bipolar disorder or manic depression have an additional obstacle that drinking creates. The reason for taking medication for bipolar disorder is to create less of a rise and fall from mania to manic. The goal is to bring the two ‘closer’ together, so the change is less drastic. When a bipolar person takes antidepressant(meditation) with a depressant(alcohol) they are helping their body do what it is circuited to do by creating more drastic mood swings and instability. I have worked so hard(sometimes more than others) to stabilize my mood and keep the bipolar fairies at arms length. So, when someone with a mood disorder, who is already taking medication, drinks alcohol, it’s like adding another non-monitored medication to the mix.
I have worked so hard(sometimes more than others) to stabilize my mood and keep the bipolar fairies at arms length. So, when someone with a mood disorder, who is already taking medication, drinks alcohol, it’s like adding another non-monitored medication to the mix.
Believe me; I’ve understood this for a long time now since I was originally diagnosed at 16. So why drink? Many reasons; it’s a social norm in my circle of people, it takes the everyday edge off, and more prevalent to me, temporarily eases the pain of loneliness, anxiety, and depression that comes with bipolar disorder.
Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress
- Long Walks: the fresh air of the outdoors and movement of walking is proven to be relaxing and beneficial to our mental health.
- Journaling: writing down your current thoughts allows you to assess your emotions from the outside in allowing you to assess them with a new perspective.
- Visiting Family and Friends: whether it is a long laugh or a warm hug these loved ones sometimes relieve stress and anxiety by providing a loving touch.
- Brushing Your Pet: the act of grooming, the consistent, slow movement and love of a pet can be relaxing.
What’s your reason?
So, why am I writing about this? Well, after month two of not being able to get pregnant I decided that some daily and sometimes destructive habits needed to change to give us the best chance. Along with attempting to eat better and exercise (eye roll), I’m trying to take my medications on time and finally, drastically cut down on drinking. Now, I say ‘drastically’ instead of to ‘stop’ drinking because I’m no fool. I understand that we can’t be perfect all of the time and a couple of drinks every once in a while won’t actually kill me. Yes, those couple of drinks may or may not affect the fluctuations in my bipolar disorder but to be honest, sometimes, so does the weather.
So here we are, day three of not drinking. Day one I was annoyed that I wasn’t going to drink. Day two, I couldn’t care less, and today, day three I write this. I hope that if I limit my frequency of drinking I will help myself in multiple ways. I hope it will help me have a more balanced mood, maybe shed a couple of pounds, and give our baby an overall healthier body to call home for 9 months.
So, I raise a glass(of sparkling cider) to change and the doors it opens up for us.