Can alcohol make you depressed?

When I drink I always end up feeling very depressed. I also wet the bed after a boozing session recently, which didn't help my mood. What's going on?

Is alcohol a depressant?

Short answer, yes. Alcohol can make some people feel depressed because it’s a type of substance called a depressant. One of the lesser-known effects of alcohol is that it alters your brain chemistry meaning the amount of alcohol you drink can directly influence the thoughts and feelings that you are having. At first, it’ll give you a confidence boost. But the more you drink, the more the negative emotions start to take over.

There’s a lot of research into the links between alcohol and depression. Most of the experts say that people either feel depressed because of the alcohol, or they’re depressed already and the alcohol just makes things worse. It’s kind of a chicken and egg situation, we don’t really know what came first. We just know that alcohol consumption, especially alcohol abuse, can lead to heightened feelings of depression and anxiety. Stopping drinking has actually been proven to alleviate these emotions. For more information on this topic, read our article on the benefits of going sober here.

It sounds like your intake of alcohol and feelings of depression are linked, but we can’t be sure. It’s important for you to notice whether you feel down when you haven’t been drinking. If so, you might want to talk to someone you trust about the way you’re feeling. You could even visit a treatment centre to get some advice, especially if you think you’re at risk of developing an alcohol dependence. Alternatively, there are charities that offer a free confidential helpline, such Mind on 0300 123 3393, or SANE on 0845 767 8000. 

Alcohol and your bladder

So, now that we’ve answered ‘Is alcohol a depressant’, time for the second part of the question. It’s actually not unusual for people to wet the bed when they’ve been drinking. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of alcohol is you empty your bladder more often. This combined with alcohol’s depressive effect means you might be sleeping more deeply than you normally would. As a result, you’re less likely to wake up when you need the loo.

Of course, the best way for you to avoid all of this is not to drink. It may be a difficult decision, but you might find that you feel happier and healthier in the long-term. You could always ask your friends to support you in your decision not to drink and you may be surprised to find that some of them might join you.

 If you would like advice on ways to avoid drinking, visit our free support service or contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.

Answered by Addaction on 05-Jun-2014

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.