CIHR-funded research: Antidepressants help men decrease alcohol consumption, but not women

OTTAWA (February 27, 2007) CIHR-funded study explored the relationship between use of antidepressants and level of alcohol consumption, examining whether using antidepressants affected the link between depression and level of alcohol consumption. The research conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) concluded that women suffering from depression consumed more alcohol than women who did not experience depression, regardless of antidepressant use. This finding differs significantly from rates found in male counterparts. While men suffering from depression generally consume more alcohol than non-depressed men, those who use antidepressants consume alcohol at about the same level as non-depressed men.

Dr. Kathryn Graham, Senior Scientist with CAMH and Agnes Massak, Ph.D student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, published the study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on February 27, 2007.

"Our results agree with previous clinical research that suggests that the use of antidepressants is associated with lower alcohol consumption among men suffering from depression," said Dr. Graham. "But this does not appear to be true for women."

Overall, participants in the survey experiencing depression (both men and women) drank more alcohol than did non-depressed respondents. However, men taking antidepressants consumed significantly less alcohol than depressed men who did not use antidepressants. Non-depressed men consumed 436 drinks per year, compared to 579 drinks for depressed men not using antidepressants, and 414 drinks for depressed men who used antidepressants.

Unfortunately for women, the alcohol use remained higher whether those experiencing depression took antidepressants or not. The numbers are telling: 179 drinks per year for non-depressed women, 235 drinks for depressed women not using antidepressants, and 264 drinks for depressed women who used antide

Contact: David Coulombe
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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