Why is alcohol a “depressant”, but makes you feel less depressed while drinking it?


Why is alcohol a “depressant”, but makes you feel less depressed while drinking it?

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Chemically speaking, a “depressant” means that the drug slows down chemical signals in the brain. Psychological depression is an entirely other branch of study.

Alcohol is technically classified as a depressant because it slows, or “depresses”, basic functions such as speech, reactions, and movement. It also affects brain function and activity, impairing the ability to think clearly, altering perceptions of one’s immediate surroundings, and distorting issues of judgment. In that sense, it “depresses” your depressed thoughts.

Alcohol functions as a depressant. It works by slowing down brain activity. That same slowing down, allows it to also act disinhibiting. You can’t worry, or stop impulsive actions and thoughts if your brain has slowed down a bit. So the immediate effect is to forget your troubles.

A *depressant* slows your chemical signals – you can see this in drunkenness by the way you’re slower to react to things, you’re slower to think of something, your words slur.

Now compare that with a *stimulant* like cocaine. People high on coke often talk a mile a minute, they bounce around the room, they’re making new connections and coming up with a dozen new ideas a minute, etc.

Everyone has told you what “depressant” means, but I wanted to add that alcohol makes you feel “less depressed” because it floods your brain with dopamine.

This why it feels fun to be drunk even if you’re not actually doing anything fun.

But if you continue to drink excessively, your brain relies on the alcohol to release dopamine instead of earning it via exercise, accomplishment, interaction, etc. So your brain becomes alcohol dependent (alcoholic) because you only feel good when drinking.

The movie “Flight” made me realize I was an alcoholic.