Important Facts About Mental Illness and Alcoholism
With one in five adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year, it’s important to understand the prevalence and effects of these disorders. In addition, nearly 17 million American adults suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD), making it one of the most common chronic conditions in the country. Alcoholism can lead to serious health problems, including liver damage and cancer. It can also increase the risk of accidents, violence, and suicides.
Mental illness is often misunderstood and there are many myths about what causes it. Alcoholism is also shrouded in myths and misconceptions. It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to mental illness and alcoholism so that people can get the help they need.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a broad term that covers a wide range of conditions. Mental illnesses can affect a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior. Examples of mental illness include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.
Mental illness is caused by a complex interaction of factors, including biological factors (genetics and brain chemistry), psychological factors (trauma or abuse), and social factors (poverty or social isolation). There is no single cause of mental illness.
What is alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in problems. It can involve drinking more than you intended to, drinking alcohol in situations where it’s not safe (like driving), or continuing to drink despite negative consequences (like losing a job).
What are the effects of mental illness?
Mental illness can lead to a wide range of problems. People with mental illness may have difficulty functioning in their daily lives. They may have trouble keeping a job, maintaining healthy relationships, or caring for themselves. Mental illness can also lead to substance abuse and addiction, as people self-medicate to cope with the symptoms of their condition.
What are the effects of alcoholism?
Alcoholism can lead to serious health problems, including liver damage and cancer. It can also increase the risk of accidents, violence, and suicides. In addition, alcoholism can strain relationships, cause financial problems, and lead to job loss.
Effects on Mental health because of alcohol dependence
Alcohol dependence can lead to a number of problems that can affect your mental health. These include:
Anxiety: Alcohol can cause or worsen anxiety.
Depression: Alcohol abuse can lead to depression. Drinking too much alcohol can make you feel depressed and anxious. It can also interfere with the treatment of depression.
Insomnia: Drinking can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Psychosis: Alcohol abuse can trigger or worsen psychosis.
Substance abuse: People who abuse alcohol are more likely to abuse other drugs.
How does mental illness affect alcohol dependence?
Mental illness can affect how you process alcohol and make it more difficult to control your drinking. For example, people with anxiety disorders may drink to calm their nerves. People with depression may drink to numb their feelings of sadness and loneliness.
How does alcohol dependence affect mental illness?
Alcohol abuse can trigger or worsen mental illness. For example, drinking can cause anxiety and depression. It can also make it more difficult to treat mental illness. So much so that people who abuse alcohol are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness.
Mental health disorders and alcohol abuse
Mental health disorders and alcohol abuse are often comorbid, meaning they occur together. Comorbidity is common in mental illness, with about 50 percent of people with a mental illness also having a substance abuse problem.
The most common mental health disorders that occur with alcohol abuse are:
Anxiety disorders: About 20 percent of people with an anxiety disorder also have an alcohol abuse problem. This includes disorders like panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Depression: About 30 percent of people with depression also have an alcohol abuse problem. This can include major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder: About 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder also have an alcohol abuse problem.
Because of the high comorbidity between mental illness and alcohol abuse, it’s important to get treatment for both conditions. If you have a mental health disorder and you’re also abusing alcohol, treatment should address both conditions.
What are the treatment options for mental illness and alcoholism?
Treatment for mental illness and alcoholism often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups. Medication can help to stabilize moods and reduce symptoms.
There are certain medicines that can help with specific mental illnesses. For example, antidepressants can help treat depression, and antipsychotics can help treat psychosis.
Therapy can help you understand your thoughts and feelings, and how to cope with them in healthy ways. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.
Support groups can provide social and emotional support. They can also offer practical advice on how to cope with mental illness and addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well-known support group for people recovering from alcoholism.
Effects on Family & Friends
Mental illness and alcoholism can have a profound effect on the people closest to you. They may feel scared, helpless, or ashamed. They may also feel like they need to take care of you, which can be overwhelming.
It’s important to remember that your family and friends are not responsible for your mental disorders or drug abuse. But they can be a source of support and love. If you have a mental illness or addiction, reach out to your loved ones for help.
If you’re struggling with mental illness and alcohol addiction, there are many resources available to help you. Treatment can help you manage your symptoms and live a healthy, productive life.
Emmaus Medical & Counseling provides high-quality, confidential, and affordable mental health and addiction treatment services. Our team of psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers are here to help you heal and recover. Contact us today to learn more!