Abstaining from alcohol is a great idea, especially when it comes to mental health. While the thought of relaxing with an alcoholic beverage might seem like a good way to release stress, indulging by drinking alcohol may actually cause more mental harm than good. According to Dr. Jesse Viner, Founder and Executive Medical Director at Yellowbrick, in order to feel mentally healthy, people should avoid alcohol, especially those experiencing issues like anxiety, depression, and impulsivity. Dr. Viner has spent decades providing psychiatric treatment to people who struggle with mental health conditions, alcoholism, and addiction. He has put together a simple reference guide aimed to educate people about the mental consequences of drinking. In 10 Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink, Dr. Viner provides an easy to understand explanation of how alcohol negatively affects mental wellness.
10 Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink starts off by pointing out how normal mental processes are disrupted by drinking alcohol. Regular activities like forming memories and learning new information are disturbed by consuming alcohol. It is commonly known that people tend to forget when they drink. They may fail to remember important information or directives. They may draw a blank when it comes to decisions they made while under the influence. In addition, contrary to the popular belief that consuming alcohol will improve the ability to sleep, drinking actually interferes with getting a full night of restorative sleep. When healthy sleep patterns are interrupted, the body and brain are not able to restore vital cells. As a result, people may experience a low level energy, a depressed mood, or a heightened sense of anxiety. Everyday mental processes suffer when alcohol is consumed.
Alcohol is a powerful drug which directly impacts the central nervous system and the brain. People should know that alcohol is a depressant and understand that consuming it slows down the central nervous system. When the central nervous system slows, mental health concerns like depression and anxiety increase. In 10 Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink, Dr. Viner points out how alcohol may be a short-lived relief for stress and anxiety, but notes that subsequently, the negative effects of alcohol on mental health cancel out any immediate respite. In other words, drinking may make a person feel good for a short while, but consumption will eventually hurt mental health. Drinking can intensify feelings of impulsivity and steer people towards engaging in risky behaviors. People make irrational choices while under the influence and tend to act out of their norm. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their intoxicated actions, they may have made impulsive, life-changing mistakes while under the influence. Drinking alcohol has the potential to increase feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Finally, consuming alcohol can be dangerous when it comes to receiving mental health treatment. 10 Good Mental Health Reasons Not to Drink warns people against mixing prescription medications with alcohol. Doing so may interfere with the therapeutic intention of the prescription, may pose physical danger, and can be fatal. Drinking alcohol may hinder therapeutic progress and can spark deeply repressed dark feelings, thoughts, and memories. While intoxicated, people often face traumatic memories. If triggered to recall details of a painful past, while under the influence, people are not usually prepared to process through difficult to deal with emotions. This may provoke intense feelings of rage, distress, shame, or anguish. It is best to work through difficult feelings in the safety and comfort of a safe, supportive environment.
If you or anyone you know has a problem with alcohol consumption, please seek professional help. Drinking can negatively affect all aspects of life, including mental wellness. In order to achieve heightened mental health, it is best to abstain from drinking alcohol, especially for people experiencing conditions like anxiety, depression, and impulsivity.
Jesse Viner, MD, Executive Medical Director of Yellowbrick, is a recognized expert in the treatment of eating disorders, difficulties resulting from trauma and abuse, and bipolar disorder, Dr. Viner has three decades of experience applying the knowledge of psychiatry and psychoanalysis to the challenge of creating meaningful and pragmatically effective treatment programs. Dr. Viner has served as Director of Adult Psychiatry Inpatient Services for Northwestern University Medical School; Medical Director of Four Winds Chicago and Director of University Behavioral Health. He is on the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Dr. Viner is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Connect with Dr. Jesse Viner on Google+.