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Alcohol Can Treat Depression, Affects Brain The Same Way As Rapid Acting Antidepressants

First Posted: Oct 03, 2016 03:49 AM EDT
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Alcohol has always been known as something that can harm your health. However, contrary to beliefs that alcohol does not have anything good in it, a recent study showed that a component in the alcohol can affect the brain as some antidepressants. Experts revealed that this is the reason why people diagnosed with clinical depression feel better when they drink alcohol.

Researchers of a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications found that alcohol produces the same neural and molecular changes as some antidepressant drugs. They believe that this is enough reason to conclude why these antidepressants have been proven to rapidly take effect on symptoms of depression, reported Science Daily. Also, the reduction in depressive-like behaviors was present at 24 hours after alcohol administration, which suggests that it could have a long-lasting effect.

"Because of the high comorbidity between major depressive disorder and alcoholism there is the widely recognized self-medication hypothesis, suggesting that depressed individuals may turn to drinking as a means to treat their depression," Kimberly Raab-Graham, the study's principal investigator from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, said in a statement. "We now have biochemical and behavioral data to support that hypothesis." He also said that there might be a potential risk of self-medicating using alcohol because self-medication can often turn into an addiction.

For the study, Medical Daily reported that researchers gave a single dose of an intoxicating level of alcohol to an animal model that blocked their NMDA receptors which are proteins connected to learning and memory. The dose of alcohol the researchers gave works with FRMRP receptors, which are proteins related to autism. The same protein also converts GABA acid from an inhibitor of neural activity to a stimulator.

Meanwhile, Medical News Today reported that further research is needed to explore the link between alcohol use and depression. However, the team believes that these current findings can shed light on issues related to how alcohol can treat depression.

"Because of the high comorbidity between major depressive disorder and alcoholism there is the widely recognized self-medication hypothesis, suggesting that depressed individuals may turn to drinking as a means to treat their depression," says Raab-Graham. "We now have biochemical and behavioral data to support that hypothesis."

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