Study Finds Link between Major Depression and Alcohol Dependence

The reasons for alcohol dependence can vary by individuals, but major depression can be a key driver. In fact, according to a recent Science Daily release, the existence of major depression (MD) and alcohol dependence (AD) occur at the same time in individuals and within families at higher rates than would happen just by chance.

A recent study examined how mood-related drinking motives may explain the overlapping familial risk for MD and AD. According to these findings, individuals with strong mood-related drinking motives, especially those based on negative feelings, could be more vulnerable to developing both MD and AD.

While many people can have both MD and AD at the same time, the association between the disorders works differently for different people. Not only does having one contribute to the likelihood of having the other, genetic risk and social circumstances can also be factors.

"Previous research had shown that individuals with higher than average scores on mood-related drinking scales are at increased risk to develop heavy drinking and AD," said Kelly Young-Wolff in the Science Daily report. Young-Wolff’s master's thesis provided the stimulus for the study.

"There is also evidence for familial risk factors, such as shared social and environmental or genetic factors, that contribute to overlapping risk for MD and AD, and for AD and mood-related drinking motives. Yet no study had examined whether mood-related drinking motives explain the overlapping familial risk for MD and AD."

According to Victor Hesselbrock, professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, it is important for family members to understand that there is a real link between drinking and depression. A family member who drinks to cope and relieve their symptoms of depression does not realize that their drinking only prolongs and exacerbates the negative feelings.


Posted on September 10th, 2009
Posted in Dual Diagnosis

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