Many of us turn to a glass of wine (or two) at the end of a tough day — and as it happens, there may be some science to our escapism. A new study has found that alcohol actually acts in the same way as a rapid antidepressant.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center looked at the link between depression and alcoholism to understand why people self-medicate. They discovered that alcohol produces the same neural and molecular changes as the drugs used to treat depression, which is why a person with clinical depression may feel a bit better after a few drinks.
The researchers found that a single dose of an intoxicating amount of alcohol followed the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants, which results in non-depressive behavior for at least 24 hours. However, the scientists were quick to point out that alcohol shouldn’t be considered an effective treatment for depression, given the risks of addiction and alcohol-related health problems.
“There’s definitely a danger in self-medicating with alcohol,” lead study author Dr. Kimberly Raab-Graham said in a statement. “There’s a very fine line between it being helpful and harmful, and at some point during repeated use self-medication turns into addiction.”
So that’s why wine, in moderation, can make a bad day a bit more bearable. See you guys at happy hour.