SITTING in the evening with a nice glass of wine or a pint of beer can be a great end to a stressful day.
But does having a drink really have an impact on our mood and is alcohol a depressant?
Official guidelines state that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week on a regular basis.
The NHS states that you should spread your alcohol intake over three or more days if you regularly drink to the limit.
A small glass of wine is worth 1.5 units and a pint of beer is 2 units – but it all depends on the strength of the alcohol you drink.
The higher the ABV (alcohol by volume), the stronger your drink will be and the more likely it is to have a high number of units.
Dr Harriet Bradley, Medical Director of Digital Healthcare Provider Livi, said that not drinking alcohol has many health benefits
These, she says, include improved sleep, better hydration, reduced acid reflux, and weight loss.
Is alcohol a depressant?
Dr Bradley said that while alcohol can temporarily improve your mood, it’s ultimately a depressant which over time can make you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
She explained, “Stopping drinking can help stabilize your mood, although it may take a few months to feel the full benefits.
“Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time can lead to brain damage and increase the risk of developing dementia.
“Alcohol reduces the volume of white matter in the brain that transmits signals around the brain, which in turn can negatively affect brain function.”
When we have a drink, the feeling of relaxation we usually experience is due to the chemical changes that alcohol has on the brain.
For some, it can make them more confident and less anxious as it begins to invade the parts of the brain that are usually associated with inhibition.
This is why for some people, having a drink can make them strong and powerful.
As we drink, the impact on our brain function increases and even if we are in a good mood, negative emotions can take over.
Aware of the drink Says: “Alcohol can be linked to aggression and some people report becoming angry, aggressive, anxious or depressed when drinking.
Experts have warned that while drinking can reduce feelings of anxiety, over time you will likely need more and more alcohol to be able to relax.
This means that over time you will need more alcohol to experience the same initial sensation you had, which could lead to alcohol dependence.
Dr Bradley said if you have alcohol problems you should make arrangements to speak to your GP who will be able to help you further.
Dr Bradley added: “Remember that admitting you have a drinking problem isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
“Whichever way you choose to approach it, the benefits of reducing your alcohol consumption on your health and relationships will be significant.”
You can take this quiz if you are worried about having a drinking problem.
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