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Alcoholic Depression: How to Recognize it in a Loved One
I consider myself to be a very open-minded, understanding, and forgiving person. I try to not judge people for their past or their mistakes. Yet, being married to a man who suffered from alcoholic depression pushed me to the brink of sanity and ultimately forced me to abandon the man I once loved so much. I once thought enough love and support could help anyone overcome depression or addiction, and perhaps it is. When you are dealing with alcoholic depression, you find yourself in a whole new field of uncertainties, broken promises, and lies.
I was married to my husband for six years and while he always had issues with knowing when to stop drinking, I didn’t realize just how much of a problem it was. Soon, I found my husband in a vicious cycle of being depressed because he was drinking and drinking because he was depressed. One element fed off the other, with seemingly no exit to this emotional roller coaster ride from hell. Despite my husband’s attempts to quit drinking, he would feel compelled to get just “one more drink,” even if it meant doing it behind my back. It didn’t take me long though before I could tell when he’d been drinking, despite his attempts to cover it up.
Unexplained absences from work and home, money missing from the bank, and short-fused, volatile outbursts of anger all continued to occur more frequently. Before I knew it, my husband was hardly ever at home. Despite my pleading, begging, and crying for him to stop drinking, my husband was unable to quit. Without knowing it, I was giving him yet another reason to drink as I warned him that he was ruining our marriage. So, how do you determine if your spouse, friend, or loved one suffers from alcoholic depression? While these are not all-inclusive or the only problem signaled by these signs and symptoms, they certainly do encourage you to look deeper into the behavior causing you concern.
Openly drinking in excess or hiding alcoholic consumption
Some people think that daily alcohol consumption is no big deal. They think they are entitled to a drink after a hard days work, or they may not even realize they drink alcohol daily. Most alcoholic depression sufferers in this cycle of drinking have not yet acknowledged they have a problem with alcohol. Either no one has expressed concern to the alcoholic or they are still in a state of denial. Care must be used in this situation as you certainly don’t want to push the alcoholic to hiding their consumption if they are not already doing so. While dealing with a drinker is extremely exhausting, I feel it is better to know they are at home, or other safe place, and know how much alcohol is being consumed.
Missing work or family functions to drink or recover from drinking
My husband started out missing one day of work a month due to drinking, but by the time he was fired, he was lucky to make it to work two days a week. When someone is incapable of getting out of bed in the morning due to drinking too much the night before, they need treatment. Missing work or a family function due to drinking leads to feelings of guilt over missing work or the event and leads to the desire to drink more. Also, depressed alcoholics who are attempting to hide their alcohol consumption may make up excuses to stay home or be alone. This allows them the opportunity to drink in peace and quiet.
Sudden mood changes or mood swings
One symptom that always caught me off guard was the sudden mood changes and unpredictable angry outburst my husband exhibited. Depressed alcoholics who have not yet sought treatment, or who are still in denial, tend to become very defensive about their drinking. The alcohol is a crutch the get them through another day. Also, alcohol makes one very emotional and the slightest trigger can find them lying on the floor crying like a baby. Alcohol in excessive amounts leads to irrational and sporadic behavior. When you add that to the dark feeling of depression, you can find yourself in a very unstable and dangerous environment. Do not do anything to antagonize the person and if you feel threatened or unsafe at any time, leave the situation and contact the police, if necessary.
Decline in personal care or appearance
A somewhat more subtle sign that someone is suffering from alcoholic depression is the slow or sudden decline in personal care or appearance. One suffering from alcoholic depression simply feel there is no point in getting dressed, taking a shower, putting on makeup, brushing their teeth, or maintaining body hair. They feel that it does not matter what they look like, they are nothing and will continue to be nothing despite their appearance. This symptom can also lead to missing work and family functions.
While these symptoms are not always indicative of someone afflicted of alcoholic depression, they should at least make you take a closer look at what is going on. Refusal to admit there is a problem or acknowledge treatment is necessary only prolongs the inevitable. Eventually, the alcoholic may attempt suicide, or attempt to drive a vehicle, putting multiple others at risk. In my own personal experience, my husband lost his job, wrecked his truck at 90 m.p.h., and ended up in jail for a year after getting pulled over for Operating While Intoxicated. Since this was his third alcohol-related criminal charge in less than ten years, he was sentenced to three months in jail for the actual charge, and then had one year added for the habitual offense.
I finally decided to divorce my husband as this was just one of multiple problems in our marriage. I’ve attempted to dissect the problems in our marriage and most, if not all, of them are directly linked to him being a depressed alcoholic. Despite all of my attempts to help him through these times, my now ex-husband only admits he has a problem when he is in jail. Sadly, once he is released, he will return to the vicious cycle that has controlled him most of his life.