Alcohol consumption has formed an integral part of our culture and social settings for centuries. From rulers, courtesans and kings consuming it for their pleasure to villains in movies drinking as celebratory gestures, usually because of a shady deal or victory, the tone accorded to alcohol consumption have kept shifting and evolving as we have progressed.
Even though alcohol still gets associated with negative tags, the general perception around its consumption has changed. Light drinking is even encouraged in social situations like office parties, weddings or just a social gathering.
Like the relationship of alcohol and its societal perception keeps changing, so does the link with an individual’s overall well-being. The relationship between alcohol use, mental health problems and mental well-being is a complex one and presents a lack of understanding through systematic research.
This happens as medical professionals like clinicians working with alcohol-abusing or alcohol-dependent patients have difficulty assessing their patient’s psychiatric complaints, as heavy drinking associated with alcoholism can coexist with, contribute to, or result from several different psychiatric syndromes.
While some people may drink alcohol to relax or help cope with daily stresses; however, alcohol as a depressant drug has been found to cause anxiety and increase stress. Moreover, it negatively affects thoughts, feelings and actions by impacting the central nervous system, contributing to the development of, or worsening, existing mental health issues over time.
Therefore, alcohol use can significantly influence the development and progression of mental health conditions. This is especially true in the case of people with, or who are at risk of, a mental health condition, are more likely to use alcohol and may have worse symptoms after drinking.
Moreover, even when consumed at low levels (one or two drinks a day), alcohol can have negative implications with most of the common medications commonly prescribed for mental health conditions, including antidepressants.
Hence, there is a need to intensify efforts to curtail the extent of alcohol consumption further and increase awareness of the negative effects of alcohol use on human health.