Alcohol And Depression

Neurotransmitters are the natural chemicals that facilitate communication between brain cells. These substances govern our emotions, memory, moods, behavior, sleep and learning abilities.

Neurotransmitters are manufactured in the brain from the amino acids we extract from foods and their supply is entirely dependent on the presence of these precursor amino acids.

Alcohol destroys these essential precursor amino acids which is probably why alcoholics seem so emotionally muddled and depressed.  Without adequate amino acid conversion, neurotransmitters are no longer produced in sufficient amounts; this deficiency causes ‘emotional’ symptoms, including depression.

The two major neurotransmitters involved in preventing depression are serotonin (converted from the amino acid l-tryptophan) and norepinephrine (converted from the amino acids l-phenylalanine and l-tyrosine). You can resupply these vital neurotransmitters and reverse depression by taking daily amino acid supplements.

Your symptoms will determine which amino acid you will take for depression: tryptophan if your symptoms are sleeplessness, anxiety, or irritability; l-tyrosine or l-phenylalanine if your symptoms are mood swings, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, lethargy, fatigue, sleeping too much, or feelings of immobility.

Alcohol is a depressant and will exacerbate your depression. Alcoholics self-medicate and wonder why they are never truly satisfied. Tyrosine supplies the Dopamine Neurotransmitter, which is the centre of satisfaction and reward. Alcoholics are truly chronic malcontents. They are never happy, never satisfied and always looking for something to make them feel better. They want to be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else. They find it impossible to live in the moment, let alone the day.

To assist my clients’ recovery, I begin with Tyrosine Mood Food to help balance the Dopamine Neurotransmitter – the satisfaction and reward centre of the brain. Why do we drink?  We’re looking for satisfaction and/or reward.  The amino acid tyrosine is found in large amounts in meats and cheese and has an amazing effect on depression. A number of studies have found that it can succeed where antidepressant drugs fail. It’s hard for alcoholics to manufacture their own Tyrosine. Stress depletes our Dopamine levels and sets us up for self-medicating with alcohol.

Tyrosine is converted into the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which has been described as the brain’s version of adrenaline. You can appreciate the power of norepinephrine when you realise that the ‘high’ produced by alcohol comes from the drug’s ability to activate norepinephrine while inhibiting serotonin. This chemical reaction causes the brain to race until the supply of norepinephrine is depleted. The crash leaves alcoholics and addicts exhausted, depressed and extremely irritable and craving more alcohol. Large doses of Tyrosine can reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent serious depression among alcoholics.

L-Glutamine, which can be found in my Ultimate Gut Health powder, can reduce both cravings and the anxiety that accompanies alcohol withdrawal.  A good liver tonic like LivaTone Plus with Turmeric is recommended and can be beneficial in those who have an inflamed liver or a sluggish liver. LivaTone Plus also contains all the B vitamins and the amino acid Taurine. It also contains the antioxidant vitamins C and E.  Magnesium Ultra Potent can be taken before bed to assist with a deep and restful sleep. It also helps to reduce stress, very beneficial to a recovering alcoholic.  Magnesium is also known as the “great relaxer”.  Dr. Cabot’s new book, Help for Depression and Anxiety is an excellent read for recovering alcoholics.