Saturday, September 14, 2013

Alcohol neither causes nor prevents depression

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new study does not support the belief that alcohol consumption causes depression - nor that it prevents it. This was the conclusion of clinical neuroscientists from the University of Western Australia (UWA).

They write about their findings in a paper published online recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In their paper, the authors describe how research has linked alcohol use, particularly alcohol abuse and dependence, to raised risk for depression.

They also note that current practice for diagnosing depression implies the link is causal.

However, they say the evidence has come only from studies that are not designed to determine cause and where unexplored factors can interfere with the results, as Professor Osvaldo Almeida, lead author from UWA's School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, explains:

"Even one of the diagnoses we have for depressive disorders - Substance Induced Mood Disorder - is a diagnosis where alcohol plays a role. However, because of the observational nature of the association between alcohol and depression, and the risk of confounding and bias that comes with observational studies, it is difficult to be entirely certain that the relationship is causal." 

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