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Compr Psychiatry. 1997 Jul-Aug;38(4):202-12.

Gender differences in DSM-IV alcohol use disorders and major depression as distributed in the general population: clinical implications.

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  • 1National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Division of Biometry and Epidemiology, Bethesda, MD 20892-7003, USA.


This study examined gender differences within and between five groups of subjects drawn from a large representative sample of the United States population and classified as having either major depression (MDD) only, alcohol use disorder (AUD) only, or primary, secondary, or concurrent depression to determine if these diagnostic profiles (1) were consistent with those drawn on clinical samples and (2) might suggest potential clinical implications. Respondents (N = 9,985) from a nationally representative survey of the United States population met DSM-IV criteria for classification into these five mutually exclusive groups that were compared within and between groups by gender on the characteristics of each disorder. The results were consistent with those of other studies: (1) gender distributions of AUD and depressive disorder remain almost mirror opposites, and (2) comorbid disorders are more severe than either of the conditions appearing singly. Findings of particular interest were that the synergistic effects of an alcohol and a depressive condition operate equally for both men and women with concurrent depression. This points to the necessity of attending carefully to gender biases when dealing with comorbid conditions, last we fail to take alcoholism in the presence of depression seriously enough in women and vice versa in men. Additionally, women with primary depression are at high risk for suicide and thus may require special attention in the evaluative phase of treatment.

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