Alcohol use disorders and the course of depressive and anxiety disorders

Lynn Boschloo, Nicole Vogelzangs, Wim van den Brink, Johannes H Smit, Dick J Veltman, Aartjan T F Beekman, Brenda W J H Penninx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Inconsistent findings have been reported on the role of comorbid alcohol use disorders as risk factors for a persistent course of depressive and anxiety disorders.

AIMS: To determine whether the course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders is conditional on the type (abuse or dependence) or severity of comorbid alcohol use disorders.

METHOD: In a large sample of participants with current depression and/or anxiety (n = 1369) we examined whether the presence and severity of DSM-IV alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence predicted the 2-year course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders.

RESULTS: The persistence of depressive and/or anxiety disorders at the 2-year follow-up was significantly higher in those with remitted or current alcohol dependence (persistence 62% and 67% respectively), but not in those with remitted or current alcohol abuse (persistence 51% and 46% respectively), compared with no lifetime alcohol use disorder (persistence 53%). Severe (meeting six or seven diagnostic criteria) but not moderate (meeting three to five criteria) current dependence was a significant predictor as 95% of those in the former group still had a depressive and/or anxiety disorder at follow-up. This association remained significant after adjustment for severity of depression and anxiety, psychosocial factors and treatment factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol dependence, especially severe current dependence, is a risk factor for an unfavourable course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders, whereas alcohol abuse is not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-484
Number of pages9
JournalBritish journal of psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders/psychology
  • Alcoholism/psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders/etiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depressive Disorder/etiology
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult

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