Many people believe that gin is a depressant.
Thanks to thousands of years of experience, we all know that some booze will make you fighty while some will make you sick.
Rumour has it, on the other hand, that gin will leave you sobbing.
But is it true? Is gin a depressant? Let's find out...
Is gin a depressant?
The trope of tearfully swigging from a bottle of gin as you complain about work or exes is an accepted part of public conversation. As comic Dylan Moran puts it, "it’s less of a drink, more of a mascara thinner."
Anyone who may get weepy on a night out essentially has a prepackaged get out of jail free card. When the tears start rolling, just blame it on the G&T.
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However, unlike the vast majority of foodie myths, there is some legitimacy to gin’s teary depressant reputation.
A study in 2017, which surveyed over 30,000 people, attempted to get to the bottom of exactly what the effects of different drinks may be on the body.
Participants were asked to describe how alcohol such as red and white wine, beer and spirits usually affected them. The results were stark.
Does gin make you cry?
Nearly one-third of spirits drinkers reported feeling aggressive and emotional.
Almost a quarter of participants felt tearful after consuming spirits like gin.
In comparison, just 17 per cent of wine drinkers and just nine per cent of beer drinkers felt the same effect.
Equally distressing was the finding that spirits were the least relaxing drink.
Only 20 per cent of people claimed liquors like gin calmed them down.
Clearly, there’s more to gin’s reputation than hearsay.
Why does drinking gin make you cry?
There are several reasons why spirits like gin may have such a pronouncedly negative effect on people.
Public Health Wales’ director of public policy, Professor Mark Bellis, addressed the issue during an interview with the Telegraph.
He said: "Spirits are often consumed more quickly and have much higher concentrations of alcohol in them.
"This can result in a quicker stimulating effect as blood alcohol levels increase."
He added that spirits may also be consumed in different social occasions.
Bellis explained: "People may be drinking them deliberately to feel the drunken effect quickly. Meanwhile other types of drink are more likely to be consumed slowly or with food.
"As people get the kick from escalating alcohol levels, the same increases reduce the brain's ability to suppress impulsive feelings or to consider the consequences of acting on them.”
Though Bellis’ expertise explains why spirits may be more affecting than other drinks, it doesn't necessarily help solve the mystery behind why gin may be a particular tearjerker.
In actual fact, the key may not have anything to do with chemistry but may instead lie in the drink’s past.
Historically, gin has suffered through some fairly rough PR patches. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the drink was blasted by politicians. MPs saw it as a corrupting influence as it was the only readily available form of hard liquor on the streets of London.
Artists such as Hogarth displayed the devastating effects of Mother’s Ruin in satirical cartoons. This helped to forge the drink’s reputation that gin is a depressant.
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Given that this was the accepted attitude towards gin for many years, it seems that we have not yet disassociated ourselves from the negative headlines. Gin’s modern emotional impact may be more about false association than anything else.
The truth about gin
Drinking gin isn’t necessarily an instant trigger for tearfulness. But it’s obvious that the connection is more than rumour. That being said, there’s more to spirits than feeling miserable.
The same study that reported the negative effects of highly alcoholic drinks also found that “Respondents’ level of alcohol dependency was strongly associated with feeling all emotions."
It added that the likelihood of aggression is "significantly higher in possible dependent versus low-risk drinkers."
This means that anyone who indulges in the occasional Tom Collins is unlikely to burst into tears without warning.
Gin isn't all bad news
What's more, even though spirits such as gin may boost feelings of aggression and depression, the study also found some more positive psychological effects.
Of all the drinks tested in the survey, spirits were also the most likely to help drinkers feel confident, energised and sexy, with 59 per cent, 58 per cent and 42 per cent of responders reporting the effects respectively.
Though the long term impact of alcohol is undoubtedly damaging, it’s clear that it’s not all bad news if consumed in moderation.
When to avoid gin
The effects that alcohol can have vary massively from person to person.
Any number of factors can determine how a drinker feels after a night on the town.
What is clear though, is that certain types of drinks are more likely to lead to a specific outcome than others.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where you need to remain collected, it may be an idea to avoid hard liquor altogether.
Even if you don’t feel particularly fragile, you never know what may happen.