Depend on Exercise, Not Alcohol to Beat Depression…

According to the Royal Collage of Psychiatrists (2019), just over half of men and just under half of women in the UK drink alcohol. For many this is a natural part of our social culture that we are fully aware of and feel comfortable with. It is shown that drinking at low risk is unlikely to have serious consequences (less than 14 units a week), which likely helps our level of comfort with it.

However since 1980, alcohol has become much more affordable, making it more affordable and accessible to all (including younger age groups).

Here are some awareness facts:

In the UK…

  • Over the past 5 years, the number of hospital admissions for mental health problems in connection with alcohol has risen by 4% in older people.
  • Around 1 in 100 adults in Britain have alcohol dependence.

Alcohol and Depression- The Connection

We know that there is a connection; self-harm and suicide are much more common in people with alcohol problems. However, it seems that it can work in two ways:

  • You regularly drink too much (binge drinking), which makes you feel depressed OR…
  • You drink to relieve anxiety or depression.

Either way…

  • Alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain, increasing the risk of depression.
  • Hangovers can create a cycle of waking up feeling ill, anxious, jittery and guilty.
  • Life gets more difficult – arguments with family or friends, trouble at work, memory etc.

What does alcohol do when your depressed?

Alcohol is a depressant which affects your brain’s naturally occurring ‘happiness chemicals’, serotonin and dopamine. This means that although you’ll feel an initial ‘boost’ when drinking, the next day you will be deficient in these same chemicals, which may lead to feeling anxious or depressed.

It is also possible that regardless of the mood you are in, with increasing alcohol consumption, it’s possible that negative emotions will take over, leading to a negative impact on mental health. Alcohol can be linked to aggression with some people reporting becoming angry, anxious or even more depressed when they drink.

Relying on alcohol can mean a vicious cycle of dependant behaviour and a rollercoaster of emotions that can ultimately make symptoms worse. So how can exercise help?

How does exercise help you beat depression?

Exercise eases the symptoms of depression in a number of ways:

  • Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.
  • Exercise can be a positive distraction – Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:

  • Improve self-confidence – Meeting exercise goals can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Allows you to socially meet new people. Meeting new people and ‘having a laugh’ can help your mood.
  • Cope in a healthy way – Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
  • Exercise offers a long term solution to easing and preventing depression, whilst also being beneficial for your overall health; Alcohol does quite the opposite.


If you need further support or would to learn more about the programmes we offer here at PGPT, contact us today to arrange a consultation where we can review your lifestyle and requirements.