Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Binge Drinking, Gender And Clinical Depression

January 5, 2007
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Alcohol consumption and depression have a complicated relationship. New findings indicate that depression is primarily related to binge drinking. The relationship between major clinical depression and alcohol consumption appears to be stronger for women than it is for men. However, men and women do not differ in the relationship between alcohol use and depression when depression is measured as recent feelings of depression or unhappiness.

Although previous research has shown that alcohol consumption and depression are often related, the findings have not been consistent. A new study has found that how researchers measure both alcohol consumption and depression, as well as examination by gender, are key issues when interpreting findings on the relationship between alcohol and depression.

Related Articles

Results are published in the January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Not all studies have found a significant relationship between drinking and depression," said Kathryn Graham, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, "and some have found a relationship for one gender but not the other. In our study, we included two quite different types of measures of depression. We also used four clearly different types of alcohol consumption measures that examined both drinking pattern as well as overall consumption." Graham is the corresponding author for the study.

"This is an important study of a large national sample of Canadian women and men," added Sharon C. Wilsnack, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences. "It looks at associations between depression and alcohol use separately for women and for 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. And even when multiple measures are used, the connections are more evident among women than among men."

Researchers conducted a general population telephone survey of 6,009 males and 8,054 females aged 18 to 76 years. The study included four types of alcohol measures given for both the past year and the week prior to the survey: frequency of drinking, usual and maximum quantity per occasion, overall volume, and heavy episodic drinking; and two types of depression measures: meeting criteria for a clinical diagnosis of major depression, and recent depressed feelings.

Results indicate that measurement and gender are key issues in interpreting findings on the relationship between alcohol and depression. Specifically, depression is primarily related to drinking larger quantities per occasion, is unrelated to drinking frequency, and these effect are stronger for women than for men.

"Depression is most strongly related to a pattern of binge drinking," said Graham. "A pattern of frequent but low quantity drinking is 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 -- for both measures of depression -- than former drinkers. This relationship with drinking pattern is greater for women than for men."

Second, the overall relationship between depression and alcohol consumption is stronger for women than for men, but only when depression is measured as meeting a clinical diagnosis of major depression. Conversely, there is no gender difference when depression is measured as recent depressed feelings, which is commonly done in research on this topic.

"This pattern of associations is more consistent with women using alcohol to counteract depression -- by high-quantity drinking and intoxication -- than with chronic alcohol consumption tending to make women depressed," said Wilsnack. "However, a vicious circle could possibly begin with drinking in response to depression. This study underscores the important fact that women and men differ in significant ways -- both biologically and socially -- that may impact how they drink, and the predictors and consequences of their drinking behavior."

"These findings provide critical clarification of the relationship between alcohol consumption and depression that will be essential for future research intended on identifying causal directions and mechanisms," said Graham. "For example, in the past longitudinal research has been conducted attempting to disentangle the alcohol-depression relationship in order to identify whether alcohol consumption leads to depression, depression leads to alcohol consumption, or some third factor associated with both alcohol consumption and depression accounts for the relationship. No clear pattern has emerged from these studies. Systematic consideration of the types of measures for alcohol consumption and depression and gender may lead to clearer, more consistent findings."

Wilsnack added that future research might also attempt to specify how the social context of drinking may affect the links between depression and drinking. For example, she said, "the association of clinical depression with episodes of heavy drinking may be stronger for women who have heavy-drinking partners and/or who have more social opportunities to drink."

The bottom line, said Wilsnack, is that "clinical depression may encourage some women to drink large amounts of alcohol in hopes of numbing depressed feelings, with risks of alcohol abuse and dependence. Therefore, clinicians treating women for depression really need to be concerned about women's use of alcohol, because of the risks that women may try to medicate their moods with alcohol."

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) is the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. Co-authors of the ACER paper, "Does the Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Depression Depend on How They Are Measured?," were: Agnes Massak of the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario; Andrée Demers of the Groupe de recherche sur les aspects sociaux de la santé et de la prévention; and Jügen Rehm of the Public Health and Regulatory Policies Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Binge Drinking, Gender And Clinical Depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103201543.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2007, January 5). Binge Drinking, Gender And Clinical Depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103201543.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Binge Drinking, Gender And Clinical Depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070103201543.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) — Artist Nickolay Lamm's Kickstarter-funded Lammily doll, based on his 'What Would Barbie Look Like as a Real Woman' project, is finally available to buy. Jen Markham explains how the doll's realistic proportions are going over with a test group of second-graders who are used to the impossible measurements of Barbie dolls. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) — A study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions shows a link between diets high in trans fats and decreased memory recall. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creating Lifelong Love of Science and Math

Creating Lifelong Love of Science and Math

AP (Nov. 18, 2014) — Kelly Mathews is a new mom on a mission to get girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math, and it starts with her own daughter. The Girl Scouts are doing their part, too, by promoting S.T.E.M. through badges and activities. (Nov. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Fun Improves Child Therapy in Poland

3D Fun Improves Child Therapy in Poland

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 17, 2014) — Scientists in Poland are helping children with autism and Down's Syndrome better focus on therapeutic exercises by taking them out of their real world environment and into a specially-designed 3D cave in which their imagination can flourish. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins