Depression and addiction sometimes go hand-in-hand. A person that has depression may seek out alcohol to use as a way to become numb or not feel anything. Other times, a person who starts using alcohol may become depressed because alcohol is a depressant. In all situations, when you stop using alcohol, it’s important to pay close attention to your mental health. Can giving up alcohol cause depression? Sometimes, the answer is yes.

How Can Giving Up Alcohol Cause Depression?

Often, it is not just that giving up alcohol will cause depression but that it will allow the underlying symptoms of depression to become more evident. For example, you may have a genetic predisposition towards depression. When you start drinking, depression seems to set in, but people don’t know that it’s there. Rather, the depressed mood seems to stem from alcohol use. It is not until you stop drinking that the depression becomes more evident.

The lack of alcohol in their system can create a depressing feeling in other people. You may feel more – whether that is anger, sadness, or anxiety. Because the depressant drug is no longer there, you may think you should feel happy and excited all of the time. That is rarely what really happens, though. You may become even more depressed by the way you feel.

What to Expect After Giving Up Alcohol

Can giving up alcohol cause depression in you? There is no way to know what could happen until you take the necessary steps to stop your use. Keep in mind that, no matter what does come, it is better than not getting the help you need to stop addiction. There are nearly always treatment options available to help you through those mental health complications. Still, consider what is likely to happen when you stop using.


Many people will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. This may include symptoms such as:

  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety

These are common to expect, but there could be others. For long-term users, there are other potential risks, including mental health changes. Depression after alcoholism can occur.

Also, note that some people may experience intense symptoms of withdrawal, especially if they have used substances for a long time. It’s always wise to work closely with your team to ensure they can help you manage any type of symptoms you have.

Mental Health Changes

Depression after alcohol recovery is one of the more common mental health complications you may experience. Others include intense anxiety and bipolar disorder. Some people use alcohol as a way to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you are using alcohol to hide the symptoms of trauma, you can expect those symptoms to become more evident after you stop using. This can often feel like depression, too.

As you consider if giving up alcohol can cause depression, know the signs of what to look for as you are working on getting sober.

  • Feelings of being sad all of the time
  • Feeling like you do not belong anywhere
  • Experiencing moments where you are unsure what your future holds
  • Negative thoughts about yourself
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others (please call 911 if you feel this way)

How to Address Negative Feelings and Mental Health Problems

When you give up alcohol, it is normal to feel different. You may not know why you are feeling the way you do, or you may be unable to process what’s occurring. Remember what is happening in your brain at this time. Your body is working to rid itself of the toxins while your brain is working overtime to learn how to work properly again, now that the substance it was relying on is no longer present. Without a doubt, it can be intensely confusing.

Knowing what to do in these situations is critical to your overall wellbeing. Here are some things to keep in mind in life after alcohol addiction:

  • You’re not alone. When you feel like this, talk to friends or family, reach out to a mentor, or turn to your therapist. 
  • Feeling different is okay, but it’s important to give your brain time to work through fears, anxiety, sadness, and apprehension. 
  • Don’t try to push it to the side. Sometimes depression is brought on by experiences or the environment, while other times it is due to a chemical imbalance that requires treatment.

Finding Treatment for Addiction and Mental Health Needs

You may not be able to understand what’s happening with your health right now, but that doesn’t mean you should struggle through it on your own. Instead, reach out to a drug and alcohol treatment center to learn more about how they can help you get through these tough times, so you come out better for them.

Reach out to our admissions team today or call us at (866) 971-5531to ask questions and gain insight into your options.

Jump to a Section

Call (855) 425-4846