More than half of Brits have increased the number of days each week that they drink alcohol, with a fifth saying their drinking has increased by ‘a lot’, in order to cope with boredom and loneliness and to alleviate anxiety during the Covid-19 lockdown.
However, our doctors here at Pall Mall Medical warn that while upping alcohol consumption may alleviate these problems temporarily, it can easily lead to longer term anxiety problems or in fact prove detrimental to personal wellbeing.
Boozy Brits have certainly hit the bottle during the pandemic, with research also indicating that 47 percent start drinking earlier in the day and a third have increased how many days they binge drink (medically defined as days on which five or more alcoholic beverages are consumed in one session).
For those experiencing anxiety around health, job security and other issues during the Covid-19 lockdown, a drink might help them feel more at ease. But doctors state this feeling is short lived; the ‘relaxed’ feeling that beers, spirits and wine bring is because alcohol generates chemical changes in the brain. But these effects quickly evaporate and can bring on a greater dependency on alcohol to achieve relaxation, creating a viscous cycle. However much a drink helps alleviate anxiety, levels of worry and feelings of sadness can increase if someone is hungover, also aggravating this cycle.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommend that Brits drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week; that’s equivalent to six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine.
Our GP, Dr. Priyanka Vaidya said: “The best way to cut down is to make sure you keep several days drink-free each week and avoid binge drinking, which is medically defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one session.
“It’s also advised to consider alternative, healthier ways of relaxing during these stressful times; these include exercise, stretching, listening to calming music, having a hot bath, or calling a friend or loved one for a chat. If alcohol has proved to be something of a crutch during the lockdown, it can be hard to change a habit immediately, so instead look to gradually cut back.”
As well as impacting mental health, drinking too much can lead to other issues including weight gain and can affect the performance of organs including the liver.
Dr. Vaidya, continues: “If you’re worried about how drinking is impacting your health, consider a liver function test. This simple blood test can check if and how your liver is being impacted by alcohol and help doctors to advise on how best to alter your drinking habits, should a change be necessary.”
If you are struggling to get an appointment with your NHS GP, at Pall Mall Medical, we offer private appointments with GPs and Consultants via telephone and video call. A Liver Function test starts from just £72.
You can book an appointment with us by calling 03300 58 44 55.