By On January 8th, 2008

Alcohol and depression often go hand in hand

Alcohol and depression often go hand in hand. Although not everyone that abuses alcohol suffers from depression, depression may fuel the need for alcohol in those that do. People who abuse alcohol and have depression may have a more difficult time quitting as a result.

According to a recent study published in the January edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, after treatment for alcoholism you are less likely to remain abstinent if you have co-occurring depression. The study, which was performed by researchers from Minneapolis VA Medical Center, charted the success of 462 people attempting to quit using both alcohol and cigarettes. According to the study, those who had co-occurring depression were 1.5 times more likely to have reported drinking after follow up six months after treatment.

Treatment for alcohol abuse that does not address depression is only dealing with half of the problem. According to Molly Kodi, lead author of the study, “our study suggests that treating depression may help people recover from alcohol use problems, although more research is needed on this topic.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that reviews the study:

At the beginning of the study, participants smoked at least five cigarettes a day and were alcohol dependent. Among the group, typical problematic drinking symptoms included repeatedly imbibing more than planned, difficulty quitting or cutting down, and continuing to drink even though drinking caused problems such as hangovers or sleeping difficulty.

All participants received intensive alcohol and smoking cessation treatment. Up to a year and a half later, researchers surveyed the participants and asked about their alcohol and tobacco habits.

“Among those who were depressed, the odds of drinking, the next time you checked in with them six months later, were 1.5 times greater than the odds of drinking for individuals without significant depressive symptoms,” said lead study author Molly Kodl.

Of the people who were depressed, the majority suffered only mild to moderate mood problems.

“With significant depression, people report mood that is down in the dumps, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, low energy, appetite changes and difficulty concentrating,” Kodl said.

While depression seems to lessen the chances of alcohol abstinence, the study did not find a similar association for tobacco dependence.

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