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Alcohol withdrawal & depression/anxiety
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Alcohol withdrawal & depression/anxiety

Hmmm, trying to figure out this puzzle & not easy. Quit drinking altogether 5-months ago cold turkey, which was not pleasant to say the least. I'm healthy & exercise all the time and the alcohol never seemed to show any physical effects [I always had anxiety issues & self-medicated myself by drinking].

So here's the thing. I now have Xanax to take for anxiety in social situations & restaurants, movie theaters or anywhere with large crowds can cause the ugly monster to rear its head. Lately I had a couple very bad anxiety attacks accompanied by depression [terrible feeling like wanting to cry]. Anyway I had a couple drinks & the feeling went away & I felt OK again. The next few days I would not drink at all & then when I encountered the same situation in which I felt miserable I had a couple of drinks again & "poof" it went away & the next day again I felt fine. I guess my concern is if this is going to lead me down the same path of drinking every day again & if someone like me can drink at all [but the depression is horrible when it hits]. To my friends, co-workers & everyone else, no one realizes I have these issues & when I'd drink, it'd be like a 6-pack of beer & a couple of drinks as well [on an every day basis for years]. For someone like myself who has consumed liquor for every day of their adult life since a teenager & who has always had anxiety problems, can I simply quit & the symptoms of depression will slowly go away OR is it without the alcohol the anxiety runs wild & causes depression as well? Anyone out there ever gone through similar circumstances? BTW - I'm in my mid-50's...
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Avatar_f_tn
You have been self-medicating for a reason, and although you stop drinking whatever is causing your anxiety is still there.  This needs to be addressed with a therapist.  Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, so you really need to talk to your doctor about an antidepressant to help with this.  The mind is a powerful thing and it may be that in your mind the alcohol has always helped....so when you drink it during these times, it may just be you relaxing in thinking the alcohol is helping. These episodes may still be some withdrawal from the alcohol...hence drinking alcohol helps.  Alcohol also increases anxiety, and it's never the answer.  You have to get to the root of your anxiety first and foremost, if this can't be done then medication is the answer.  Now that you've drank alcohol again, you'll have to start all over with not consuming it anymore.  I hope this helps and wish you all the best.
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480448_tn?1403547723
Welcome to the forum!  I admire your honesty here.  That's not always an easy thing to do!

I agree completely with mammo.  You are self medicating, which is a fairly common occurence for anxiety sufferers.  You've come a long way in 5 months, you really don't want to go back.  Not only are you at a significant risk of health problems if you continue drinking, but the anxiety will still be left unaddressed.  You may feel good while you're drinking, but eventually the alcohol use will cause a fierce rebound anxiety and ultimately there won't be enough alcohol in the world to make you feel comfortable.

Have you tried the anti-anxiety medication instead of drinking when you are feeling nervous?  I think that may be something worth trying, but I would urge you to be VERY cautious.  For one do NOT mix alcohol with the Xanax.  Secondly, you are at higher risk for abusing the medication (more self medicating) due to the alcoholism.

I think two things are in order here...one, a very frank and open conversation with your doctor to discuss your issues and find out what medications might be appropriate taking into consideration your history.... and therapy.  Therapy is invaluable for addressing anxiety.

You've suffered long enough, it's time to get some help and start working on YOU.  Very best of luck, keep in touch with us and let us know how you're doing!
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Avatar_m_tn
I would have to agree with both mammo and nursegirl.  I also admire how candid and honest you are.  I know many people with anxiety that used to deal with it through alcohol and it all ended up the same...while it seemed to provide temporary relief, it ended up hurting them in the long run.  Of course there are long term health effects from drinking heavily, but you are also not confronting the underlying cause of your anxiety and until you do, it will remain there in my experience with this, but you are already going the right direction in my opinion.  You admitted you have a problem and shared it with this forum (for me, just admitting that I was experiencing anxiety was very hard to do), so you know you must confront it.

I also agree that therapy is a very good way to go.  It gave me the knowledge to confront it and deal with it long term...keep us posted!
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I'm 2 years sober from a year and a half of treating my anxiety and depression I've had since early childhood with a 5th or two a day. I must agree therapy helped me soooo much with this. When I tried to drink again by the 3rd time I did it I got wasted, so I don't know if you can ever drink again but I can not. AA has almost been a form of group therapy for me, on top of one on one cognitive behavioral therapy. I do remember that for DAYS after drinking my anxiety was AWFUL if I didn't drink, which helped fuel my addiction. My psych and I agreed in the long run alcohol did more harm than good for my anxiety and depression. I am super sensitive to alcohol now, I used cough syrup last weekend (I usually won't even use mouthwash with alcohol but I was sick) and I'm still having some anxiety. good luck to you!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi hmf099 - I am curious as to your comment  about being "super sensitive to alcohol now".
Here's mu current situation. As my anxiety got worse due to financial & several friends deaths I drank more & anxiety got worse [I'd drink a 6-pak of beer & a few drinks every evening]. Then I started feeling worse and basically had a nervous break-down. Doctor & physocologist said the acute-anxiety coupoed with the alcohol & everything I'd gone through personally the last 2-years led to depression. When I say nervous-breakdown, a somewhat loosely used term, that is what it was. I had this terrible depressed feeling & felt like crying all the time & did so when alone in my car away from my wife & left work early numerous times making up excuses. Anyway I stopped drinking altogether for 4-months & did it cold-turkey. Now here is the thing. Twice now under different circumstances I had 2-glasses of wine a month ago & last week 2-beers. In both cases the following day I had that terrible depression feeling fore about 2-3 days afterwards, which *****. SO I am wondering if I AM super sensitive to alcohol now OR like my therapist says: the depression & anxiety issues took a long time to develope into a severe problem & will not go away just overnite - she indicates I'll have these short-relapses of depression from time to time. I would really value your thoughts along with anyone else's. Thanks -
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480448_tn?1403547723
The only advice that would be fair for me to give you is to seek out help in the form of aftercare for your alcohol problem.  At some point, you have to decide what is more important...living your life with your anxiety and depression under control?  Or, continuing to stay on this roller coaster ride with you trying to see how alcohol will continue to affect you.  It doesn't matter in the end WHY alcohol causes severe anxiety and depresssion for you (and many many others), it just does.

This is a fairly simple problem to fix in terms of what you need to do.  MedHelp has a super Alcoholism Community, I'd suggest you check it out!

Many of us, even those of us without a true drinking problem, have chosen to stop drinking all together simply beacuse the resulting anxiety and depression isn't worth it.

You've come so far, why go back there?  Especially as severe as both your drinking problem was, and the resulting anxiety/depression.  Instead of worrying about how sensitive you are to alcohol, why not just make the decision to stop drinking forever?  You know first hand how badly alcohol makes you feel the after indulging.  Those effects aren't going to go away after some time off...they actually become worse.

Very best of luck to you!
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your very nice post and good advice - well thought out. It does help to hear this from someone else having never gone through this before. My therapist/psychologist says I'm handling things well & would recover fine with or without them, but says I made the right choice in seeking to recover more quickly & prevent any recurrence. The odd thing is they mentioned if I wanted to have a beer or glass of wine in the future as long as I thought I could control it and not need to do it every day, then it would be fine [mixed signals?]. Therefore as I started feeling better I thought once in awhile this would be OK. Problem is twice now I was on one heck of a roller coaster ride & the depression came flooding back for several days. So now I am at a point where I'm actually afraid to even have a beer if this is what's causing it [OR is it like the therapist says & just minor relapses of a condition that took 2-years of bad events to develop?]. Now sure, but think I'll be on the wagon for awhile at least until I get more answers. If not sure then the obvious choice would be to just not drink. Thanks again for your great input!
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