Feeling depressed after drinking

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: Hello before i start this question i do not have a problem with alcohol. I have contacted you before and your feed back was very helpfull as you know i have been suffering from depression for two years but two weeks ago i went for a walk and i had a really long hard think and a thought came in my head which i thought i would never think and that thought was why should i feel down and depressed as i have felt like this for to long i decided i would try to think positive as life is to short to feel unhappy so i tried to blank the negative thoughts out of my head and for the rest of that week i feelt something i have not felt in a long time and that was happy and positive and my head felt so clear but as anyone knows who suffers or sufferd from depression it is easy er said than done to think like this that is why this thought was so powerfull and eye opening i dont know where it came from.

But the problem is a friend of mine asked me if i would like to go for a drink i dont drink much alcohol as it makes me feel more depressed but because i was in such a good mood and my head felt clear i decided that i would. but after drinking so much alcohol i can feel the depression and the negative thoughts creeping back in my head. I am now worried i can not find it in my self to think positive and try to overcome the depression like i did before. Could it be the alcohol has messed with the chemicals in my brain and it is making me feel like this and do you think i could find the positive thinking again thank you?

A: You have learned some very important things about yourself. You know that alcohol affects you badly and puts you back into depression. You know that you have the capacity to stop the depressing thoughts and to instead think positively. You also know how good it feels to be more in control of your mood. Good for you!

I can tell you this: If you’ve turned your thoughts around like that once, you can do it again. It won’t always work 100 percent but chances are it will work at least a good amount of the times you try. What you stumbled on yourself is a well-researched and well-documented technique called “acting as if.” When a person learns to act as if he isn’t depressed and keeps it up for a day or two, often enough the depression lifts some. Believe it or not, the brain chemistry even starts to change. Keep it up and you gain more control.

My best suggestion to you then is first to eliminate alcohol. You already know it messes you up. Then, have faith in yourself. You already proved that you can shift your thinking and feel better. No one did that for you. You did it. You can do it again and again until it’s a habit. Meanwhile, find something to do that makes you feel good about yourself. That can be anything from running to working out to volunteering somewhere to making art or music. Put those good feelings into doing something positive so you’ll have more to feel good about.

I’m glad we were helpful to you before. I certainly wish you well in this project. Let me know what happens.

Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Oct 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Feeling depressed after drinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/16/feeling-depressed-after-drinking/