According to a new study that is to be published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, depression caused by drinking heavily may be able to be relieved with abstinence instead of potentially dangerous antidepressant medications like Paxil or Effexor.
“I don’t know that the average person realizes that heavy drinking can induce mood problems,” said lead researcher Marc A. Schuckit, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Perhaps what is more significant is that doctors may not be aware of alcohol consumption’s link to depression, either. The results of this study stem from a 30-year study of nearly 400 males that have been monitored since they were 18. During the study, the researchers learned that about 41 percent of the men with alcoholic fathers abused alcohol and almost 20 percent of those men suffered from some sort of depression at some point in their lives.
That information caused the researchers to wonder if the alcoholic men who experience depressive episodes seemed to experience them while they were drinking. Schuckit notes that “if alcohol is the cause, the depression is very likely to disappear with abstinence (from drinking).”
This may be significant in getting doctors to stop prescribing antidepressants like Paxil or Effexor and recommending that patients stop drinking instead as a means of coping with their depression. Both Paxil and Effexor cause serious side effects, including violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior in patients who use the pills. The pills also cause babies of mothers who take the drug while pregnant to be born with various birth defects, including PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects and oral clefts.
It may be difficult to know whether suffering through a parent’s alcoholism or the patient’s genes are behind a person’s depression. It very well may be both, and other things. But one thing is clear: We don’t need to make the situation worse by prescribing medications with horrific side effects.