Is There A Link Between Alcoholism And Depression?
It is a matter of common sense that depression and alcoholism often go hand in hand, but until recently it has not necessarily been well established just exactly to what degree this is the case. Obviously, not all depression is caused by drinking, since in many cases it is the result of major life stress, the sudden loss of a loved one, poor diet or other factors.
On the other hand, many alcoholics chalk up their drinking problem to the fact that they are depressed, saying that they are driven to drinking by their mood disorder. A new study which was published in the February 12 edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs appears to have shed some light on the issue, providing us with greater insight into the extent of the relationship between alcoholism and depression. Based on the findings of the study, it appears that it is actually common that a person will develop depression as a result of drinking, rather than the other way around.
The Study On Alcoholism And Depression
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, and it was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Spanning three decades, the study followed the progress of nearly 400 white males from the time that they were around 20 years of age throughout most of their adult lives. These men were carefully screened in order to assemble a group of individuals who were physically healthy, mentally and emotionally stable, not suffering from any type of substance abuse problem and who were without any prior history of severe depression.
Over the course of the 30 years, it was found that 15.4 percent of the men developed a case of major depression which was not related to alcohol. These men were not found to be any more likely than their peers to turn to drinking or to become alcoholics. Nearly half — 41 percent to be exact — of the men did become alcoholics, and in this group, 31 percent of depressive episodes were found to have been caused by heavy drinking.
One In Three Depression Cases Caused By Alcohol
In answer to the question of what percentage of cases of depression are caused by alcohol, the study discovered that slightly less than one-third of depressive episodes occurred in relation to alcohol, whereas the remainder were caused by other factors. While alcohol may not be the cause of a majority of the depression experienced by people in this country, it is nonetheless apparently among the leading causes. In the light of this, it would apparently often be a mistake for alcoholics to justify their drinking by pointing to the fact that they suffer from depression.
This understanding was highlighted by the study’s lead researcher as being among the most important conclusions which can be drawn based on the data which he and his colleagues discovered. Rather than reaching for that next drink as a way to self-medicate and to numb the pain and suffering they feel is a result of depression, it would be better for an alcoholic to realize that he or she may actually be causing the depression by continuing to engage in heavy and long-term drinking. To make matters worse, once a person has developed depression as a result of drinking large amounts of alcohol, he or she is more likely to drink more alcohol in an effort to to find relief, and of course this only serves to intensify and aggravate the condition, thereby creating a dwindling spiral from which many never escape.
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