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Holiday Drinking and Seasonal Depression – What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team

Alcohol and depression are already a major problem in the USA, but when the holiday season rolls around, things tend to get even worse. For a person with depression, drinking alcohol may seem to help alleviate or numb the symptoms, but only for a short while, then the depression returns with a vengeance unless they keep drinking. This cycle of addiction and depression will consume thousands of people across the globe this holiday season.

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How Seasonal Depression Begins …

Let’s look at an example …

A person wants to go visit family for the holidays, but cannot get off work. Depending on the individual this can cause a wide array of feelings.

These feelings / emotions include:
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness

Whether or not these feelings turn into a case of seasonal depression, clinical depression, or even trauma, that is dependent on the individual.

According to a Harvard article, factors such as genetic vulnerability, faulty mood regulation by the brain, stressful life events, medications, or medical issues, may all contribute to how the depression is developed in the individual.

A person who is denied a weekend off for the holiday who has a history of trauma, could experience a trigger reminding them of the past trauma, and potentially result in depression symptoms in present time. An individual who is prone to substance abuse during difficult times, could experience a relapse during this time of frustration.

We can see how just a small event in our daily life could cause a ripple effect that leads to ongoing symptoms or problems, well after the triggering event has taken place.

Sometimes, people say they experience seasonal depression every year, or that the holiday season is always a miserable time. But why is that?

Could it be that their genetics, or maybe a remembrance of past events triggers a state of depression? Possibly an imbalance in the brain chemistry is to blame? Maybe all the overeating and cookies is wreaking havoc in the brain chemistry, who knows, each individual is different. With all of the potential factors that contribute to depression around the holidays, one thing is for certain, adding alcohol into the equation, or getting drunk, or binge drinking, can be the final straw and lead for the need for a higher level of professional medical attention.

Alcohol Addiction and Depression

drinking seasonal depressionIt is well known that people will go to many lengths to drink alcohol during the holidays, or to try to drink away the holiday depression. Alcohol may be used as an aid to provide comfort during a time of suffering. Historically alcohol may be relied upon during difficult circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, a break up, a trauma, as a way to take away some of the pain. But then, the risk of alcohol addiction is high, because the use of alcohol usually continues well beyond the end of the depression symptoms. A person will easily go from having seasonal depression to alcoholism, if proper care and treatment for dual diagnosis is not provided. Depression, although difficult to endure at times, is largely a temporary problem. Alcohol addiction, on the other hand, leads to lifelong struggles, major health problems, or even becomes a “gateway drug” leading to long-term drug addiction.

An Effective Approach to Healing Depression and Alcoholism

The ATMC approach to help balance the brain chemistry, address the toxic burden, and investigate underlying issues, is one of the most trusted ways to eliminate symptoms of depression, as well as curb the urge to drink alcohol. For over a decade, ATMC has assisted individuals desperately seeking an alternative to medications. Long-term psychiatric medication use typically has side effects, or leaves a person feeling as if they are not a 100% themselves. For many, becoming free from antidepressants is a life changing moment!

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

One major concern shown in studies indicates alcohol consumption reduces the circulation of tryptophan to the brain, which may lead to a higher chance of violent outbursts or worsened depression symptoms. For a person who is already suffering seasonal depression, major depression, or other mental health symptoms, picking up a drink to numb the pain will likely do much more harm than good. For individuals who are reliant on antidepressants for their depression, drinking alcohol could have a more intense result. Reports of memory loss, blackouts, and even uncontrollable violent behavior, prove how combining alcohol and antidepressants could turn into a disaster.

Why Alcohol and Antidepressants Don’t Mix!

For anyone currently seeing a doctor and taking antidepressants, or other psychiatric medications, drug interactions may pose a risk. Alcohol and antidepressants, or alcohol combined with any psychiatric medication, will often lead to either worsened symptoms or additional symptoms. But, how severe can these interactions really be?

Since there is not much conclusive data published on the interactions between these two substances, a review of cases was conducted with the following shocking results:

“Pathological intoxication, characterized by unexpected and often gross disinhibition, was identified in 100 of 201 reports that provided enough detail to be evaluated. Memory impairment was prominent in just over half (53/100) of these. Outcomes included serious violence; homicide occurred in 8 cases, including two double and one triple homicide (12 deaths).”

Out of just 201 reports reviewed, over half of the subjects had “memory impairment,” and there were even 12 homicides or violent deaths reported.

Common drug interaction symptoms include:
  • Increased anxiety
  • Worsened depression
  • Problems sleeping
  • Memory loss or impaired thinking
  • Drowsiness or becoming overly sedated
  • Increased aggression or violence
  • Potential dangerous reaction to those taking MAOIs

Are Warnings Needed for Antidepressants and Alcohol?

A review of cases collected and reported on the website admits the need for additional warnings so patients understand the risk of pathological intoxication during their antidepressant treatment.

At Alternative to Meds Center we agree. Additional research, effective warnings, and education are needed to help remind patients reliant on antidepressants that drinking is not a good idea. At our holistic psychiatric center in Sedona, Arizona, we have seen many cases in which interactions between alcohol and antidepressants cause severe symptoms or even cause violent or disturbing behavior in the individual who is suffering.

Don’t Suffer Long-Term Consequences for One Wild Night!

Most people would think that after a holiday weekend of binge drinking, or a wild New Years Eve party, the hangover would be rough, but pass. The problem is, alcohol use will often make the depression symptoms worse, or cause alcohol induced violent behavior, which may leave behind a trail of consequences. One night of heavy drinking could cause a lot of damage for someone who is already suffering from depression. If you or a loved one are battling depression and thinking about drinking, or already addicted to alcohol, please contact us anytime for support.

Have a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season!

recovery from alcohol and antidepressantsIf you or a loved one is suffering from depression this holiday season, or trying to drink away the sorrows, we hope the information in this article is enough to help you decide to be proactive about making a plan to be healthy. Depression affects millions of Americans, and there are many ways to begin the healing process that don’t involve drinking or medications. At Alternative to Meds Center, we offer a holistic and therapeutic inpatient center where people come to recover and heal from the damage caused by long-term antidepressant use, as well as alcohol dependency. We find that providing a nutrient-rich diet, supplementation, a supportive environment, and access to world class holistic medical professionals, gives even the most challenging cases the highest chance of long-term success. After a decade of offering licensed dual diagnosis services in Sedona Arizona, we are proud to say thousands have been helped and provided a second chance at life, after recovering from seasonal depression, major depressive disorder, alcoholism, and many other serious conditions.

Originally Published Dec 14, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

Holiday Drinking and Seasonal Depression – What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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