In terms of biochemistry, alcohol is proven to act the same way as antidepressants.
According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications
, alcohol produces the same molecular and neural changes as drugs that were proven to be rapid antidepressants which are effective.
Kimberly Raab-Graham, Ph.D., the research’s principal investigator and Associate Pofessor of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine,
said, "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. We now have biochemical and behavioral data to support that hypothesis."
However, this doesn’t suggest that alcohol can now be regarded as an effective treatment to clinical depression.
Raab-Graham added, “There's definitely a danger in self-medicating with alcohol. There's a very fine line between it being helpful and harmful, and at some point during repeated use self-medication turns into addiction.”
In the study, researchers found that a single dose of intoxicating level of alcohol (shown to block NMDA receptors which are proteins that are associated with memory and learning) worked with an autism-related protein FMRP to transform the acid called GABA from inhibitor to stimulator of neural activity. They discovered that these biochemical changes result to non-depressive behavior for at least 24 hours.
The researchers’ study illustrated that alcohol followed the same biochemical pathway as with rapid antidepressants in animals and was also able to produce behavioral effects comparable to what was observed in people.
In the recent years, rapid antidepressants in single doses such as Ketamine have been proven to relieve depressive symptoms within hours and even last up to two weeks.