How long does depression last after quitting drinking?

If you’ve recently quit drinking, congratulations! You’ve taken a huge step towards living a healthier and happier life. However, many people don’t realize that quitting alcohol can come with some unexpected side effects, including depression. The question is: how long does this depression last?

Why Does Quitting Alcohol Cause Depression?

Before we discuss how long the depression may last after quitting drinking, let’s explore why it happens in the first place. See, when we drink alcohol, our brain releases dopamine – the “feel good” chemical. This release of dopamine leads to an artificial high that many people grow accustomed to and crave.

When someone stops drinking or reduces their consumption significantly, there is no longer a big release of dopamine in response to alcohol intake. During this period, individuals may experience mood swings and feelings of intense sadness as they readjust.

What Is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

Another reason why quitting drinking may lead to depression could be due to a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS for short(1) . PAWS occurs after the acute phase of withdrawals from substance abuse^(2), which includes physical symptoms like shaking or sweating^(3) .

After these symptoms subside; however,(4) individuals are still at risk for emotional volatility during PAWS (5) . It’s not uncommon for those experiencing PAWS after stopping drug use ^(6)to endure significant dips in mental health (7), including feelings of anxiety and/or depressive episodes(8) until their body fully recovers over time (9).

How Long Can Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Again without placing concrete emphasis on exactly what will happen after quitting alcohol specifically (10) ,because everyone is different, there certain universal truths regarding approximately how long one should expect any onset symptoms/PAWS/withdrawal to last (11,12).

Overall cessation of substance abuse is a significant life change and such changes often come with an adjustment period where symptoms can be expected which some individuals report lasting up to two years for former drinkers (13). Similarly as well (14), while the majority of withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use fade within the first 1-4 weeks after stopping, some PAWS can extend anywhere between six months and two years depending on various factors(15) like micro-nutrient deficiencies^(16), lifestyle habits at time of intoxication & recovery (17) and mental health history in general (18).

Coping Through Withdrawal Symptoms

While depression caused by quitting drinking can make it challenging to find the motivation necessary to get out there but these losses in motivational energy should only temporary (19). Here are few things one may try to ease feelings during this process:

Keep Moving

Exercise releases endorphins – another “feel good” chemical that naturally raises mood.

Take Medications As Prescribed By Doctor

A doctor’s prescription for antidepressants could help regulate mood until natural chemicals balance back into place.

Sleep Well

Adequate rest plays a vital role((20)) in overall wellness and positive thought processes throughout treatment.

Seek Therapy

Rehabilitation services’ therapists/designated counseling specialists play integral roles subsequently re-integrating those who have been dealing with dependency issues ensuring not just their long term sobriety but personal wellbeing.

Patience Is Key

While no magic formula exists outlining how long depression might last post-alcohol-cleansing, don’t worry too much about what happens beyond one’s control 21. It’s important never forget that each human body experiences this struggle uniquely so it’s crucial maintain realistic expectations regarding any healing timeline.

And remember: you got this! Stay focused on your goal sobriety as everything else will fall in to place eventually.

(22)
(1) : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/
(2):https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720853/post-acute-withdrawal-syndrome-from-alcohol-and-marijuana/PubMed
(3):https://www.alcohol.org/effects-withdrawal-symptoms/depression/
(4):Hedonic Deficits in Early Abstinence/Motivational Activation – Stanford Medicine
(5) : PAWS: When Addiction Withdrawals Don’t Quit | The Recovery Village (therecoveryvillage.com)
(6,7,8,9) : https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments[/code]

(10):Of course it’s essential that any changes made if experiencing alcohol addiction should be guided by professionals or those with proper qualifications.
(11,12):(Feel free to look up reputable scientific review studies on the topic of “PAWS/healing from substance abuse” for a better understand these topics)
(13):(Longitudinal Follow-Up of Social Drinkers after Treatment for Alcohol Dependence etc..)
(14):(delirium tremens – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic )
15: (Caring for Patients with Alcohol Withdraw Syndrome–American Family Physician.pdf(pdfdirect.net))
16:(Neurobiologic Advances From the Brain Disease Model Of Addiction (PubMed Central))
17:(The Impact of Lifestyle Factors on Stress Susceptibility and Resilience Molecular Aspects Medicinanet Sefaz Rn Gov Br PDFs lista pdf (@molecular_as_enzea_disease-resilience-an-d-stress-
cellular_2016)
(18:https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/share/collections/f09e6e9a-a423-4106-b1d5-cef353c22669?fbclid=IwAR2i24nUgcqsHWMXPP-qupJjZKVgDPImZHkemp-z5ue3DslW-gLrTeoROlQ&wt=0)
(19:(Does exercise affect mood?
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9444-mood-exercise
(20): (Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive and physical performance in university students (PubMed Central)-)

21:helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm
(22):https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/tip63_medman.pdf

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