A recent study published has found a connection between drinking and depression in women. This health news update comes from the Globe and Mail site. However, this no doubt applies to both men and women. Alcohol is actually a depressant rather than a stimulant and doctors, when inquiring about a person’s feelings of depression, should also ask about their drinking habits. Although there is a definite link between the two for women especially.
“If you’re treating a person for depression, especially if it’s a woman who’s suffering from major depression, it would be a good idea to look at their drinking pattern — and especially looking at how much they drink per occasion,” said lead author Kathryn Graham, a senior scientist for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health .
Dr. Graham, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, said the 14-month study found that a pattern of frequent but low-quantity drinking was not associated with depression. “In fact, those who usually drink less than two drinks per occasion and never drink as much as five drinks are less depressed … than former drinkers.”
The study, published in the January issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, involved lengthy telephone surveys of more than 6,000 men and 8,000 women aged 18 to 76, randomly chosen from across Canada between January, 2004, and March, 2005.
Participants were asked about their behaviour in the previous year and in the week before the study: how often they drank alcohol; how much they drank per occasion; how often they downed five drinks or more; and what their maximum number of drinks was at any one time.
The researchers also asked respondents about episodes of depression during the previous year and in the week prior to the survey: whether they had experienced recent periods of “the blues” or suffered serious bouts that lasted a minimum of two weeks. Professor Sharon Wilsnack of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences called the research “an important study” because it looks at the link between depression and alcohol use separately for women and men.
“It is clear from the study’s results that it is a mistake to analyze relationships between depression and alcohol consumption without specifying which manifestations of depression are linked to which drinking patterns,” Dr. Wilsnack said in a statement.
“This pattern of associations is more consistent with women and depression using alcohol to counteract depression — by high-quantity drinking and intoxication — than with chronic alcohol consumption tending to make women depressed,” Dr. Wilsnack said. “However, a vicious circle could possibly begin with drinking in response to depression.”
Still, some link does seem to exist: It’s known that among people treated for alcohol problems, the rate of depression goes down when they abstain from drinking and, conversely, feelings of depression can occur when someone has a hangover, she said.
“For sure, drinking four or five drinks or more on an occasion is not going to help depression and it may actually be contributing to depression,” particularly in women, Dr. Graham speculated. “That would be a drinking pattern that should be avoided.”
Filed under: Depression