Alcohol and Depression- Escape or Exacerbation

Jack Barton | 2014-07-17 06:02:13

Depression is a condition in which individuals experience chronic low mood and reduced motivation to engage in daily activity. Current literature suggests that depression is more prevalent than first thought with most individuals experiencing some form of clinical depression throughout their lifetime.

The relationship between depression and alcohol dependency is widely recognised, many individuals use alcohol as an escape. Therefore it is no surprise that alcohol consumption in populations diagnosed with depression is higher than that of populations currently undiagnosed. However is there more to this relationship that simple correlation?

The issue with studies analysing depression and alcohol disorders is that they focus around epidemiological data (comparing population prevalence) therefore the identification of a causal relationship is difficult. However studies controlling variables such as negative life events have demonstrated that a causal relationship may be present (Boden and Fergusson, 2011). Some literature has suggested a potential relationship between alcohol consumption and folate metabolism which is known to affect depressive disorders (McEachin et al, 2008).

Anecdotally most of us have experienced family members or friends who have experienced depression and alcohol misuse. Alcohol misuse can have huge impacts on social relationships, physiological and psychological health and it seems that it may be attributed to direct causes as opposed to confounding variables.

One may argue that there is a desperate need for more education and support on the possible effects of alcohol misuse in these populations. Current population awareness does not appear to represent such high prevalence.

Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)

Boden, J. M., & Fergusson, D. M. (2011). Alcohol and depression. Addiction, 106(5), 906-914.
McEachin, R. C., Keller, B. J., Saunders, E. F., & McInnis, M. G. (2008). Modeling gene-by-environment interaction in comorbid depression with alcohol use disorders via an integrated bioinformatics approach. BioData Min, 1(2).