The British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP) has published research which suggests that alcohol dependence is a significant predictor of future episodes of anxiety or depressive disorders, whereas alcohol abuse is not.
The study explored whether the course of depression or anxiety disorders were conditional upon the type and severity of alcohol problem. Severe dependency was linked to the persistence of anxiety and depressive disorder incidences at 2 year follow-up. However, the study found no significant difference in people with alcohol abuse (or moderate problems), compared to people with no lifestyle problems at a 2 year follow- up.
This study is the latest in a long line of research aimed at teasing out the complex nature of the links between alcohol and depression/anxiety disorders. A 2005 study by Haynes et al found that alcohol was not a significant risk factor for the onset of anxiety and depression, whereas abstinence was associated with a lowered risk of onset. A study in 2011 by Liang et al found that common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, may increase the risk of alcohol dependency and misuse.
For more information on alcohol and mental health see the Mental Health Foundation site. For access to an E- Learning suite on dual diagnosis for professionals, service users, carers and the public, please visit the National Dual Diagnosis E-Learning Resource. NICE clinical guidelines on psychoses with co-existing substance misuse are an extra resource for professionals.