Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact reason why sober women react more favorably than sober men, but they believe abstinence from alcohol reduces life stressors.
People drink for several reasons. Some drink to take the edge off, while some drink to get things off their mind. There's been a never-ending debate about drinking, with some saying that it's good for you while the others say it isn't. Now, there's a new study that claims that women who abstain from alcohol actually improve their mental health and overall well-being.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and it suggests that limiting your alcohol intake, or stopping it altogether, is actually more helpful than indulging in a glass or two when you're stressed.
For the study, researchers analyzed the drinking patterns and mental health levels of more than 10,000 people in Hong Kong and more than 31,000 people in the United States. In both groups, men and women both refrained from alcohol consumption completely by living a sober life and they reported the highest levels of mental well-being.
The study comes at a time where many Americans are trying out an alcohol-free life as part of the “sober-curious” movement.
“Our findings suggest caution in recommendations that moderate drinking could improve health-related quality of life,” Herbert Pang, one of the study co-authors and an assistant professor at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong, told TODAY.
“The risks and benefits of moderate drinking are not clear.” Co-author Michael Ni said in a statement that quitting drinking may be a better way to proceed when it comes to feeling calm and peaceful.
“When people get sober, they a lot of times will feel calmer, their anxiety diminishes and there’s less irritability. They just say, ‘Wow, that’s a better place to be,’” said Dr. James C. Garbutt, a psychiatry professor at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina.
Alcohol is known to relieve stress at first, but it activates systems in the brain that makes anxiety worse later.
This leads to a cycle of “I need more alcohol to relieve my anxiety, which makes my anxiety worse, so I need more to relieve it,” Garbutt added. As time passes, alcohol can also add to factors like depression, irritability, poor sleep, and stress sensitivity.
Notably, it was women who reported the highest levels of mental well-being when they stopped drinking. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact reason why sober women react more favorably than sober men, but they believe abstinence from alcohol reduces stress in life.
During a follow up with the subjects, women who quit drinking during the study reported a higher improvement in their mental health than those who had never had alcohol their entire life. Besides mental health, alcohol is also considered to have adverse effects on your physical health as well.
Some say drinking daily could shorten your lifespan, while others say drinking in moderation helps people live longer. “The idea that a little alcohol is good for your longevity, that’s not really considered the take-home message now," added Garbutt.