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Am J Psychiatry. 2000 May;157(5):751-8.

Prospective study of depression and the risk of heavy alcohol use in women.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and the Department of Mental Hygiene, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205-2223, USA.



The authors' goal was to determine whether depression is associated with a greater risk of heavy alcohol consumption in women.


The study was based on a 1-year follow-up of the Baltimore cohort of the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area project. The sample consisted of 1,383 women at risk for heavy alcohol use. History of depression and frequency of lifetime-experienced depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline, and incident cases of heavy drinking were identified 1 year later. After calculating descriptive statistics for the sample, the authors developed a series of logistic regression models to estimate the risk of heavy drinking at follow-up associated with depression status.


The initial estimate of the risk for heavy drinking in women with a history of depressive disorder was 2.60 times greater than the risk in women with no history of depressive disorder. This estimate did not change markedly after adjustment for age, history of antisocial personality disorder, or father's history of heavy drinking (relative risk=2.2). A higher frequency of depressive symptoms was also found to be associated with an elevation in the risk for heavy alcohol use (relative risk=1.09).


These results add to other evidence that depression must be considered in the assessment of vulnerability for heavy alcohol use in women. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms of the observed association and to discover whether detection and effective treatment of depression might reduce risk of later alcohol problems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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