How Alcohol Affects Mental Health and How To Prevent It

An alcoholic drink and a woman starting out the window.

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Alcohol and mental health are closely related, and one frequently worsens the other. According to studies, those who suffer from mental health issues, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression, are more likely to become alcoholics. They might use alcohol as a form of self-medication, to lessen their symptoms, or to deal with stress.

Alcohol consumption, however, can exacerbate existing mental health issues and possibly start new ones, creating a vicious cycle between addiction and mental illness. On the other hand, chronic alcohol consumption can also result in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. In this blog, we’ll tackle how alcohol affects mental health and how you can prevent it.

How does alcohol affect mental health?

Alcohol consumption alters particular brain regions, which affects mood, behavior, and cognition. Alcohol specifically causes the release of dopamine in the mesolimbic or reward circuits in the brain, resulting in a pleasurable, euphoric experience that can result in alcohol misuse. Long-term alcohol misuse, however, can harm the brain significantly, including a loss of brain mass, particularly in the prefrontal cortex.

Damage like this can alter personality and emotions and impact cognitive abilities, including remembering, problem-solving, and decision-making. As a result, those who battle alcoholism are more likely to suffer from mental health issues and may need combined treatment to address both alcoholism and mental health issues.

Short-Term Psychological Effects of Alcohol

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The mental effects of alcohol, especially if consumed excessively, can be detrimental and immediate. Psychological effects of already appear for people who have acute alcoholism. Here are a few short-term psychological effects of alcohol:

1. Insomia

In some cases, drinking can act as a sedative that makes it easier to fall asleep. However, alcohol consumption could also disrupt a normal sleep pattern, leading to poor quality sleep and insomnia.

According to a 2018 study, having two servings of alcohol per day for men and one serving per day for women can decrease sleep quality by 24%. Additionally, it increases by up to 39.2% percent when exceeding these mentioned amounts.

2. Impaired Judgement

The prefrontal cortex controls impulses, assesses risks, and makes choices that will have long-term effects. Alcoholism can, however, affect the prefrontal cortex, which causes delays in information processing and makes it more difficult for people to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of their choices. Because people are less able to consider the benefits and risks of a particular course of action, this can lead to poor decision-making, impulsive behavior, and risky activities.

3. Confusion

Confusion and delusions are other examples of how alcohol affects mental health. This is because consuming large quantities of alcohol can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to slower response rate and confusion.

4. Mood Swings

Both the brain and the endocrine system suffer effects from alcohol consumption. The endocrine system produces and controls the hormones that regulate various body processes, including mood. Overindulging in alcohol can throw off the body’s hormonal balance, which can cause erratic mood swings and depressive episodes.

5. Uncoordinated Movement

Alcohol’s effects on the central nervous system can have various detrimental impacts on balance and cognitive ability. Excessive drinking can impair motor function and produce slurred speech, balance issues, coordination issues, and slower reaction times.

Long-term Mental Effects of Alcohol

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Continuous alcohol consumption could also lead to long-term mental health effects more severe and prominent than the previously mentioned disorders. Alcohol’s long-term impacts on the body and the mind are the following:

1. Alcohol Use Disorder

AUD is a chronic illness that can afflict anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, and can have significant adverse effects on social functioning, mental health, and physical health. Intense alcohol cravings, losing control over how much alcohol is drunk, withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, and continuing to drink despite adverse effects are all signs of AUD.

2. Depression

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According to a study, one-third of people with depression also have an alcohol dependency, making depression a frequent mental health problem linked to alcohol addiction. Evidence also points to the possibility that alcohol addiction may come before depression, as those who are depressed have a desire to drink. Unfortunately, there can be disastrous effects as severe depression often leads to suicidal thoughts and actions.

3. Personality Changes

Alcohol and mental health issues lead to personality changes because intoxication alters the body’s serotonin levels, which transmit mood signals to the brain. When serotonin levels are unbalanced, it can lead to mood swings, irritability, and emotional instability. These personality changes can lead to strained relationships with friends and family, isolating excessive drinkers from loved ones.

How to end and prevent mental effects of alcohol?

Knowing how alcohol affects your mental health is a critical step to preventing these issues. Overcoming alcohol dependency can be difficult but it’s not impossible by seeking professional help from a reputable addiction recovery institution.


It’s critical to understand how alcohol affects mental health. Numerous negative emotions, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings, can be brought on by excessive drinking. Alcohol can also affect cognition and decision-making because it changes the brain’s chemistry. In addition, alcoholism can cause isolation, deterioration of general emotional health, and damaged connections with family and friends over time.

To manage the adverse effects of excessive drinking on the mind and to create and maintain good relationships, alcohol addiction treatment is essential. If you or someone you love is dealing with alcohol addiction, it’s critical to prioritize mental health and get expert assistance.

Let Haven House Recovery help you prevent and recover from alcohol and mental health issues.

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Seeking help is the best first step toward recovery. If you’re looking for the most trustworthy alcohol rehab in Clarksville, TN, choose Haven House Recovery. Our facilities provide a comprehensive addiction recovery program to help individuals achieve a sober lifestyle.