Module 7: Vices, Habits, and Substances
Those suffering from anxiety and depression often use substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or other illicit drugs in response to their symptoms.
In reality, people use substances like alcohol and nicotine because they are effective in the short term. Often they enter into our lives when we are struggling and looking for ways to feel better in the short term.
But this doesn’t come without a cost to the brain. Nicotine, alcohol, and other substances of abuse are not effective solutions in the long term. Rather the research shows that they are associated with inflammation, a myriad of health consequences, and more symptoms of depression and anxiety.
For long term mental fitness and optimal brain health, minimizing alcohol and other substances is best for full recovery from anxiety and depression, a concept known as harm reduction.
Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world. While a cup of coffee or tea can improve focus and wakefulness, it can also lead to interruptions in sleep and feelings of anxiety. Pay careful attention to the sources and timing of your caffeine intake.
If you’re struggling with your mood or anxiety, chances are that substances like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol could be part of the picture. My main recommendation is to consider the role of these substances in your life and consider taking some time off to better understand their impact on your mental health.
Be sure to review the resources in this module to discover ways to better understand your relationship with these substances, and find ways to minimize their negative impact on your mental health.
Finally, I hope you hear my encouragement to seek professional help if you are struggling significantly in this arena.