How does alcohol affect our emotions?
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain and affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviour. Alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls inhibition, so after a drink or two you may feel relaxed, less anxious and more confident. But these effects quickly wear off.
For many people alcohol is described as a fun, social substance which they drink for a wide range of reasons: to celebrate, socialise, commiserate or drown our sorrows. We may drink to try and change our mood: to feel more relaxed, courageous or comfident. However, the effect of alcohol is only temporary. As it wears off, we often feel worse because of how alcohol withdrawal affects our brain and body.
There is no question that excessive drinking can have a negative impact on the body and the brain. The cerebrellum is one of the most sensitive areas of the brain to the effects of alcohol because it has the ability to control functions like memory and emotions. Alcohol forces our bodies to create an increased amount of serotonin and endorphins, which are responsible for regulating our emotions and our sense of relaxation and happiness. Ultimately, the more often you drink, the mlre vulnerable your brain becomes to the effects of alcohol, potentially making your moods more volatile over time.
Although alcohol does reduce agitation at first, the emotional effects of alcohol do not really last too long, and in fact other mental health conditions and mental health issues will come in when you start to drink excessively.
The emotional effects of alcohol are that, when it enters your brain you may temporarily feel relaxed, but these positive dmptions and happy feelings wear off once the alcohol leaves your system.
To ensure that the emotional effects of alcohol come back, you will find yourself consuming alcohol in greater quantities. After several drink free days, ghe negative emotions come back, and you will start longing for that temporary relief, and this is how excessive alcohol comsumption and alcohol abuse starts.
To fully understand the effects of alcohol on your intersctions we first meed to look at how it affects our emotions.
This is partly down to neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help to transmit signals from one nerve in the brain to another.
With alcohol we experience two competing effects: arousal and sedation. When we drink alcohol we are more alert and active, but we exoerience lower amounts of brain activity compared to when we are sober.
Effects like this indicate that as a result if the sedation we experience, we are less motivated to interact with people and our minds wander, which reduces the intensity of our interactions. This is actually one of the contributing factors to alcohol abuse and mental health.
In addition, alcoholism is well known to correlate with co-morbid mental illnesses. Many people with problems such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, of moods disorders turn to alcohol to self-medicate. However, alcohol and drug abuse can also create or exarcebate these issues.
With both depression and anxiety, alcohol can be used to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings. However, in both cases long-term alcohol use tends to worsen them.
Furthermore, if a person does not have depression or anxiety but is predisposed to it, alcohol can act as a trigger.
In bipolar patients alcohol is known to trigger depressive cycles. People with mood disorders can feel even more unstable after drinking.
And of course, if someone regularly turns to alcohol as a means of emotional support, they can easily cross the line into alcoholism.