A new study has been conducted that has found that alcohol is neither the cause of, nor the solution to depression. This explanation came in a conclusion to a paper authored by clinical neuroscientists from the University of Western Australia (UWA). The paper was recently published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The authors of the paper explain that the research that has linked the use of alcohol in excess to depression does not conclusively prove that alcohol abuse is the cause of the depression. They do, however, say that there is proof from studies that were conducted with the intent of linking alcohol abuse to depression that the studies themselves left stones unturned in terms of the factors that interfere with the results. Basically, what this means is that the studies are inconclusive when different variables are added.
“Even one of the diagnoses we have for depressive disorders — Substance-induced Mood Disorder — is a diagnosis where alcohol plays a role,” Professor Osvaldo Almeida, lead author from UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, explains. “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.”
For example, he says, “heavy drinkers may also be heavy smokers, have poor diets and other health problems, and these factors could explain why so many also suffer with depression.”
Knowing that variables change the results of the study, Almeida sought to a find a genetic pathway instead. The researchers basically analyzed the ADH1B gene variant that creates a type of ADH1B enzyme that inhibits the body’s ability to process alcohol. They learned that people who carried this gene variant tolerate alcohol less efficiently than those who didn’t. Almeida explained that it was a “triangular study” that sought out this gene variant to see if it could find a causal link between depression and alcohol.
“Now, if alcohol causes depression, then a genetic variation that reduces alcohol use and alcohol-related disorders should reduce the risk of depression,” he notes. “The great advantage of looking at the gene is that this association is not confounded by any other factors — people are born like that.”
It was this study that found that booze doesn’t cause or cure depression, a condition suffered by thousands of people worldwide. Depression is generally treated with antidepressant medications like Effexor and Paxil (both SSRIs). These drugs are the third-highest-prescribed drug type in the United States. Drugs like Paxil and Effexor have been proven to cause violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior and they have been linked to birth defects when used during pregnancy.