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The Allen Enterprise Project
          Alcohol-related Liver Disease

Depression

There is a very strong link between those who suffer with depression, and the drinking of alcohol. With there being more than seven different forms of depression, I don’t want to get too involved with each of these types, suffice to say most types of depression can have the same or similar effects, these can be: * Feeling drained of energy * Inability to sleep at night. * Turning to food for comfort. Alternatively the individual may completely lose their interest in food. * Problems with forgetfulness. * The individual may find it a real struggle to get out of bed in the morning. * The activities they once enjoyed no longer feel satisfying. * Pessimism about the future. * They may feel guilty about things that happened in the past. * Body aches and pains that seem to have no obvious cause. * Difficulties with concentration. * Alcohol and drug abuse. This includes dangerous patterns of consumption such as binge and bender drinking. * The individual feels irritable much of the time. * The feeling that life lacks any real meaning or purpose. * Low self-esteem – the person may believe that they deserve to feel the way they do. * Thoughts of committing suicide. * Feeling disassociated from the world. * The individual may feel like there is a barrier between them and other people. * They do not feel like socialising. The individual may begin to isolate and avoid other people. * A sad nostalgia from the past.
When people with depression binge drink they can get caught in a vicious cycle. Their symptoms make life a bit unbearable so they turn to alcohol as a type of self-medication. Initially the individual will feel a temporarily easing of their symptoms, but binge drinking produces further depressive symptoms. The individual is then caught in the terrible downward spiral of drinking to ease their symptoms which in turn is causing further symptoms. Unless the individual can escape this downward trajectory they will be heading towards suicide or an alcoholic death. Binge drinking is not an effective way of dealing with symptoms of depression. In order to improve their symptoms the individual is advised to: * They will need to go and see their Doctor to discuss the symptoms. This professional will be able to determine a proper treatment    plan. * Stop binge drinking immediately. They may be best advised to quit alcohol completely – at least until their depression is under    control. * If people are unable to control their alcohol intake they will need to abstain. This may mean that they need to enter rehab. * If the symptoms of depression have been caused by alcohol abuse then they should soon disappear in sobriety. If these    symptoms do not seem to be resolving then the person will need medical help. * One of the most common ways to treat depression is to use drug therapies. These medications can take a few weeks before they    begin working effectively – it may also sometimes be necessary to try a number of different medications before the right one is    found. * If people are feeling suicidal they should seek support right away. The worst thing the person can do is to keep such thinking a    secret. * Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for depression.

Depression - Self-Medication

Sadly it’s becoming increasingly common to find not only adults, but also teenagers and children who will now self-medicate on alcohol.   More and more young teenagers are turning up at A&E departments suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse. Sadly today’s modern society puts a heavy burden on the young as they are having to deal with exam stress, bullying, peer pressure, both mental and physical abuse and a feeling of being unloved or wanted. I suspect it’s also about growing up and wanting to look cool, to feel like your now a grown-up and no longer a child. I my day it was smoking, everyone smoked cigarettes, if you didn’t smoke you felt excluded and not normal. You were uncool and a chicken. This BBC video featuring Sir Ian Thomas Gilmore (professor of hepatology and previous president of the Royal College of Physicians of London), was made back in 2013. It’s reassuring in some respects to note that the proportion of 11 to 15 year old children who have ever had an alcoholic drink has been declining since 2003. In 2014, 38% of pupils had drunk alcohol, the lowest proportion since the survey began when it was 62%. My own experiences with this cycle of events didn’t become apparent to me until after the damaged had been done to my body. For some unknown reason some GP’s just don’t seem to make the connection. I knew that I suffered with depression and I was taking Citalopram daily for years. Once my liver began to fail, I stopped taken Citalopram as I had read that this can do damage to the liver. As my liver was already damaged, I didn’t want to take anything which was going to cause even more harm. When I suffered a variceal bleed (see medical consequences) in December 2014, for me it was very much a wakeup call, and I have not consumed any alcohol since then. It really did break the cycle for me. I took a long hard look at my life and tried to analysis my behaviour. First of all I had to be totally honest with myself. It wasn’t about apportioning blame. It was me trying to understand what it was that was broken, and what needed to be done in order to make it right. It was while doing this, that I noticed that there was a pattern to my drinking and my depressional moods. The two were linked. I feel it’s important to treat both symptoms at the same time. I’m a great believer in the treating of the cause and not just the symptom.
All that I’ve learnt has been through my own research. It appears that I suffer from mild depression with episodes lasting around three days. These episodes would on average reoccur every 22 - 33 days, and this seemed to coincide with my bender drinking behaviour. The two were both definitely connected. Knowing that I had a problem with alcohol, I once went to an AA meeting down in South Wales, for some help and support. After talking a little about my problem, I was told that if I could go three weeks without a drink, then I wasn’t one of them and that I should leave. I remember coming away feeling that I was a fraud. Which really didn’t help my depression. So, please try and ask, and search inside yourself as to why your drinking in the first place. If it’s because of an unhappy occurrence in your life, or maybe something happened to you and your struggling to deal with it. Then don’t suffer in silence and keep it to yourself. Sometimes when we have something like this happen to us that we can’t deal with. We try to blank it out or push it to the back of our minds. But sadly because it hasn’t been dealt with it’ll keep on coming back to haunt us. An approach which might help is to tell yourself that “what is done is done”. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s time to draw a line in the sand, and move on. There’s nothing you can do about yesterday, and there’s not much you can do about today, but you can most certainly do something about tomorrow. Like I said before, a problem shared is a problem halved. Talk to someone, speak to your Doctor, a friend or relative, or even a priest or vicar. There are many ways this situation can be dealt with, you are not alone. You don’t have to suffer any more. At the ripe old age of 64-years, I’ve gone through my life with the attitude of, “This is what’s wrong, now what am I going to do to make it right”? This simple attitude has worked for me on so many occasions. It’s all about having  positive attitude.