Depression and Alcoholism in Women

Alcohol is a perennial favorite among individuals who suffer from depression, including women. The substance provides a respite from the symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or despair, replacing these emotions, at least initially, with a sense of relaxation and escape. A woman struggling with depression may rely on alcohol as a coping tool, something to help take the edge off the symptoms as well as assisting them in relaxing enough to get to sleep at night. But as is the pattern with any substance that can be abused, tolerance eventually builds and inevitably leads to higher levels of alcohol consumption.

Because alcohol is a depressant in the way it impacts the central nervous system and brain chemistry, it actually works against the woman who is seeking an escape from the dark symptoms of depression. Alcohol only enhances the low mood, at least in the longer term. In fact, depression and alcoholism in women can substantially increase the risk of suicide, as alcoholism and suicide are often linked. The risk of suicide among alcoholics is 5,000 times the risk of the general public, with about 20% of those who end their lives are found to be alcoholics.

While consuming alcohol may provide some temporary relief from the depression symptoms, in the long run the risk of becoming alcoholic looms. The “medicine” becomes the illness. The negative consequences of the disordered drinking begin to pile up, impacting all aspects of life, making depression and alcoholism in women is a dangerous combination.

Are Women More Prone to Depression?

Statistics provided by The Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience reports that there is a 1.7-fold greater prevalence of depression among women versus men, and more than twice as prevalent among young women under age 25. Some of the reasons for the disparity include:

  • Hormonal differences. Women may experience more intense mood swings as a result of biology. Depressive disorders such as postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postmenopausal depression and anxiety are associated with hormonal activity.
  • Women are more sensitive to interpersonal relationship strife than men
  • Women bear a higher degree of responsibility for childrearing, which can translate to socioeconomic challenges and the limiting of career options

Alcohol Impacts Women Differently

In addition to being more susceptible to depression, women are also more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Because of a woman’s smaller size and higher fat content, it takes less alcohol to become intoxicated than a man, and longer for it to metabolize. This means that long-term health problems due to alcohol abuse are increased in women.

According to the CDC, alcohol abuse in women leads to higher liver disease rates than men, more damaging brain effects, are at higher risk for heart damage than men, and may be more vulnerable to sexual assault.

Signs of Depression

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low mood most of the time
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleeping or insomnia
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Loss of interest in the hobbies or activities formerly enjoyed
  • Slowed cognitive and motor functioning
  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Talks about death and suicide

Signs of Alcoholism

Symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Increased tolerance that leads to higher alcohol consumption
  • Inability to control drinking
  • Obsessing about drinking, planning for it, obtaining it, recovering from it
  • Decreased job or academic performance
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Relationships begin to suffer
  • Isolating or withdrawing from friends and family
  • Try to cut back or stop but cannot
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is not available

Getting Help For Depression and Alcoholism in Women

The dual diagnosis of depression and alcoholism in women is a serious and complex combination. It is important to select a treatment program that specializes in treating co-occurring disorders simultaneously for the best recovery outcomes. Treatment will include:

  • Medical detox
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy or couples therapy
  • Medication management
  • Addiction education and relapse prevention planning
  • Life skills training, coping skills, communication skills, conflict resolution
  • Holistic therapies such as mindfulness training, yoga, and massage therapy

With commitment to recovery it is possible to overcome the dual diagnosis of depression and alcoholism and live a full and productive life.

Capo By the Sea Provides Dual Diagnosis Treatment For Depression and Alcoholism

Capo By the Sea is a luxury addiction treatment program located in Orange County, California. Nestled in a tranquil beach community, Capo By the Sea provides the perfect setting for healing from the dual diagnosis of depression and alcoholism. Our clients are pampered with upscale amenities and beautiful accommodations that enhance the treatment experience. Using a blend of evidence-based therapies, holistic therapies, and medication, women are immersed in a compassionate, healing process while given the tools to manage life in recovery. For more details about the program, please reach out to Capo By the Sea today at 888-529-2114