Alcohol is a psychoactive drug made by changing the sugars in grains, fruits, or vegetables through fermentation. It is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, where it affects the central nervous system, which controls nearly all body functions. It can act as a depressant, stimulant, or anesthetic, depending on the amount ingested and how it is used. Alcohol has been consumed for most of human history in drinks such as beer, wine, and spirits.
The immediate effect of drinking is often positive, thanks to the flood of feel-good neurochemicals it sparks in the brain, like dopamine, GABA, and various endorphins. However, these effects are only temporary and, in the long run, can make a person more susceptible to depression the next day.
Moreover, because drinking can lower inhibitions, people are more likely to express their negative emotions — and that can make them feel worse. It can also numb feelings and interfere with sleep-wake cycles, which can lead to fatigue and a slew of physical problems that are hard on the mood.
The good news is that you can help to prevent this cyclical pattern by not drinking in excess, staying well-hydrated, and practicing other healthy habits. It's also important to talk with a mental health professional as soon as possible to address any underlying depression that may be contributing to your drinking. In fact, researchers have found that people who drink moderately have a lower risk of depression than those who don't drink at all.