By On March 9th, 2009

Alcohol abuse may cause depression, but not the other way around…

According to a study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry alcohol abuse may cause depression, but not the other way around. Scientists at University of Otago’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences took data from a prospective cohort and applied it to three different statistical models. Overall, the findings suggested a casual relationship between the two, wherein chronic alcohol use led to depression. The researchers mentioned, however, that the findings were only “approximations to a more complex set of conditions.” The researchers went on to say that, “The underlying mechanisms that give rise to such an association are unclear… however, it has been proposed that this link may arise from genetic processes in which the use of alcohol acts to trigger genetic markers that increase the risk of major depression.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the findings in more depth:

To explore the issue, they examined data from the Christchurch Health and Development study, which followed 1,055 individuals born in New Zealand for 25 years from birth.

For the current analysis, participants were interviewed when they were 18, 21, and 25.

At 18, some 19.4% had alcohol problems and 18.2% had major depression.

The numbers were similar at age 21, when 22.4% had alcohol problems and 18.2% had major depression.

At the final assessment, 13.6% had alcohol problems and 13.8% had major depression.

Averaged across all ages, alcohol abuse or dependence was associated with nearly double the risk of major depression (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.53 to 2.37, P<0.001), which was only partly attenuated by adjusting for confounders.

In an attempt to determine causality, the researchers tested three statistical models on the data:

* One in which both disorders increased risk of the other in a feedback loop
* One in which major depression caused alcohol problems
* One in which alcohol problems caused major depression

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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