Welcome to my Blog

Monday, June 21, 2010

What about Depression and Alcohol Abuse?

Dear A.B.

Can you please comment on alcohol consumption and depression. I had a brief look on your site, but could not find any comments from you about alcohol.

I am particularly interested in the possibility that alcohol causes us repetitive anxious thoughts. Not a physical anxiety disorder, just those worrying thoughts of the future that get irrational. I understand these to be a symptom of depression. T_________

Dear T___________

It doesn't matter why you have anxious thoughts. You can always get rid of them.
A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B. Curtiss

Many thanks for your comment.

I will open by stating that I believe alcohol withdrawal can cause depression.

Here is my story.

I have drank heavily all my life, and enjoyed every minute of it. I grew up in an Irish drinking family etc. Towards my 54th year, I was drinking 50 or 60 units a week! However, I quit for 3 months about 2 years ago, as I was bored with the drinking. I was 54 then. I am a male by the way. After the 3 month sabbatical, I had back to back 10 unit nites. The next day, sober, the mother of all depressions hit me! I didn't know what on earth was going on, it was hell.

I was tortured by negative anxious sad thoughts. LOL, I had to invent a mosquito sized "predator drone" to fly around in my head and "zap" the torturous thoughts. After about 3 days, I thought, "Hey, this works". That was the start of my cbt journey.

For the last 2 years I have kept a journal, worked with cbt, made meditation and buddhist psychology part of my life.

I cruise along quite nicely with a rule of 25 units a week maximum. (a unit is 1 bottle of beer, or 1 4oz glass of wine, or 1.5 oz of liquor). However, if I am "out with the crowd" for 3 days straight, with say, 8,9, and then 8 unit nites back to back, wham!! I get floored with depression.

It is not as bad as that awful day two years ago, thanks to the cbt techniques similar to the things I saw on your web-site. But it takes 3 or 4 days to go away. I do not drink of course in those 3 or 4 days.

I had about 4 of those "overindulgences" last year , but have got sloppy these last six weeks, and been taking a proper beating.

I know I am an alcoholic, but I love that bit of social drinking.

Phew, this going on a bit. I think my brains chemistry has changed as I aged, and the above experience leads me to believe too much drink triggers depression in me. Maybe the depression is always in me ,lurking, but the excessive boozing brings it out. YUK!

Thank you so much for your work, and for talking with me. I would greatly appreciate any further comments of you have time. T____________

Dear T_________

One thing to remember is that whatever drug you put into your brain causes the brain to produce chemicals of its own in order to maintain a homeostasis. This is why alcoholics build up a tolerance for alcohol--you need more and more to get the same "lift." This may be the problem with depression as well--if you are giving the brain an "upper," it will produce some kind of a "downer" to bring about stability. Then when you withdraw the "upper" the "downer" takes a while to dissipate.

My husband was an alcoholic until he retired and lost all his drinking buddies and the excuses for liquid business lunches. He's one of the lucky ones who didn't suffer withdrawal symptoms and now drinks rarely. He admits he's better off. He took up duplicate bridge and racquet-ball and plays both 4 days a week, except when he injures himself and has to recover.

Dear A. B.

The irony of my demon, is that it keeps me on a short leash. If I abuse, I pay, with depression! Been great talking with you. T_________

Dear T_______________

The great probability is that ultimately abuse of alcohol will kill you. Maybe you should get another hobby. You need to trade in your demon for some kind of an angel

Addiction is a personality style, kind of like manic depression. I’m a manic depressive and my husband is an addictive. The answer to manic depression is to shave off the extremes, refuse depression so it self-expires, and avoid self-focus. The answer to addiction is to substitute positive addictions for negative.

A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

A.B. Curtiss

Thanks for your comments on Homeostasis. They make great sense for my situation "What goes up must come down"

Regarding positive addictions, I am addicted to physical exercise and healthy eating. I think my more recent "addictions" of meditation and dharma will be with me permanently also.

One thing that did occur to me this week-end, is the following sobering thought, excuse the pun.

The fact is that my brain chemistry has changed since I hit my mid fifties. The proof is that after a lifetime of lazy hangovers, I am instead thrown into a depressive hell after overindulging. Believe me, a much worse outcome than an old fashioned hangover!

The sobering thought is that another chemical change may very well occur as I continue to age. It is very likely my new 25 unit a week maximum, will be reduced to 15 units a week as the years pass by. It's like my body is protecting itself from me drinking too much, by issuing "pain".

On a level I am not conscious of, my body is saying "knock it off! Or else!"

Be well! T________

Dear T______

I think you analysis is absolutely correct. A. B. Curtiss

No comments: