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Can J Psychiatry. 2001 Jun;46(5):422-5.

A prospective study of sex-specific effects of major depression on alcohol consumption.

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  • 1Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, 5849 University Avenue, Halifax, NS B3H 4H7.



To evaluate the impact of major depression on alcohol use in the Canadian general population.


This study was based on a 2-year follow-up of the Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS) longitudinal cohort. Subjects reporting various patterns of drinking, with and without major depression, were selected using the 1994-95 NPHS data. Data collected during a reevaluation of these subjects 2 years later were analyzed to determine whether having major depression at the 1994-95 interview predicted subsequent changes in drinking patterns.


Subjects who were depressed in 1994-95 were generally not at higher risk of starting drinking or drinking more frequently than once a week. However, women who were depressed, especially those who were 19 years old or older, were at higher risk of having 5 or more drinks at least once monthly.


These results confirm that mood disorders can impact on alcohol consumption in women. A component of the well-known association between alcohol consumption and major depression is due to "reverse" causal effects. Proper management of depression in women may contribute to the prevention of problem drinking.

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