Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

DEPRESSANTS (ALCOHOL, BENZODIAZEPINES)

Alcohol consumption is generally accepted and openly advertised in many Western countries. This social acceptability has been blamed in part for the high rates of dependence. Countries where alcohol is more available have higher rates of alcoholism. Alcohol is a depressant, although people experience increased confidence and may be more sociable due to lowered inhibitions.
Links between alcohol abuse and suicide, both attempted and completed, are well documented (Sher 2006). People misusing alcohol may develop the following features of mental illness:
• low mood
• agitation
• apathy
• loss of appetite
• loss of libido
• suicidal ideation.
The depressant effect of alcohol may contribute to suicidal thoughts, and impulsivity and aggression are strongly implicated in suicidal behaviour and also common to people intoxicated by alcohol.
Intoxicated people are more likely to attempt suicide using more lethal methods, and alcohol may be important in suicides among individuals with no previous psychiatric history. Alcohol misuse can also result in vitamin B1 deficiency, which may lead to
Wernike’s encephalopathy (features of this are confusion, staggering gait and abnormal eye movements). This can lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome if not treated, which is characterised by severe memory impairment, confabulation and lack of insight. Chronic misuse of alcohol may result in alcoholic hallucinosis, which may be
difficult to distinguish from schizophrenia. Persecutory auditory hallucinations may occur in clear consciousness, and may appear during periods of abstinence, reduction or continued use.

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