Skip to main content Accessibility help

Diagnosis of Depression in Alcohol Dependence: Changes in Prevalence with Drinking Status

  • Kate M. Davidson (a1)



Depression and alcohol dependence are frequently found to co-exist but the relationship between these disorders requires further elucidation. This study tested several hypotheses related to the relevance of whether the diagnosis of depression was made before admission or after detoxification in the current episode for those with alcohol dependence.


The Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (SADS) was administered to obtain Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) on 82 randomly selected alcohol dependent in-patients. Alcohol-related (Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (SADQ), alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems), socio-demographic variables and treatment for depression were assessed.


For the episode of drinking which led to admission, a diagnosis of major depression was found in the majority of patients (67%). Once detoxification from alcohol took place, only the minority (13%) met criteria for major depression.


It is suggested that depression is largely associated with the episode of drinking which led to admission in patients who are dependent on alcohol and may be due to the effect of chronic alcohol intoxication. Socio-demographic and alcohol-related characteristics appear to bear little relation to the presence of depression. Clinicians exercise appropriate judgement in not prescribing antidepressant treatments to patients whose depression may remit with abstinence from alcohol.



Hide All
Brown, S. A. & Schuckit, M. A. (1988) Changes in depression among abstinent alcoholics. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 49, 412417.
Cadoret, R. & Winokur, G. (1974) Depression in alcoholism. Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences, 233, 3439.
Coryell, W., Keller, M., Endicott, J., et al (1989) Bipolar II illness: course and outcome over a five-year period. Psychological Medicine, 19, 129141.
Dackis, C. A., Gold, M. S., Pottash, A. L. C., et al (1986) Evaluating depression in alcoholics. Psychiatry Research, 17, 105109.
Davidson, K. M. & Ritson, E. B. (1993) The relationship between alcohol dependence and depression. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 28, 147156.
Endicott, J. & Spitzer, R. L. (1978) A diagnostic interview: the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35, 837844.
Halikas, J. A., Herzog, M. A., Mirassou, M. M., et al (1981) Psychiatric diagnosis among female alcoholics. In Currents in Alcoholism. Volume 8 (ed. Galanter, G.), pp. 281291. New York: Grune & Stratton.
Hasin, D. S. & Grant, B. F. (1987) Diagnosing depressive disorders in patients with alcohol and drug problems: a comparison of the SADS-L and the DIS. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 21, 301311.
Hasin, D. S., Grant, B. F. & Endicott, J. (1988) Severity of alcohol dependence and social/occupational problems: relationship to clinical and familial history. Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, 12, 660664.
Herz, L. R., Volicer, L., D'Angelo, N., et al (1990) Additional psychiatric illness by diagnostic interview schedule in male alcoholics. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 30, 7279.
Hesselbrock, M. N., Meyer, R. E. & Keener, J. J. (1985) Psychopathology in hospitalised alcoholics. Archives of General Psychiatry, 42, 10501055.
O'Sullivan, K., Daly, M., Carroll, B., et al (1979) Alcoholism and affective disorder among patients in a Dublin hospital. Journal of Studies on Alcoholism, 40, 10141022.
O'Sullivan, K., Whillans, P., Daly, M., et al (1983) A comparison of alcoholics with and without coexisting affective disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 133138.
O'Sullivan, K., Rynne, C., Miller, J., et al (1988) A follow-up study on alcoholics with and without co-existing affective disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 813819.
Powell, B. J., Penick, E. C., Othmer, E., et al (1982) Prevalence of additional psychiatric syndromes among male alcoholics. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 43, 404407.
Ritson, E. B. (1990) The Edinburgh Alcohol Problems Clinic. British Journal of Addiction, 85, 2529.
Schuckit, M. (1983) Alcoholic patients with secondary depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 711714.
Spitzer, R. L., Endicott, J. & Robins, E. (1978) Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) for a Selected Group of Functional Disorders, 3rd edition. New York State: Psychiatric Institute, Biometrics Research.
Stockwell, T., Hodgson, R., Edwards, G., et al (1979) The development of a questionnaire to measure severity of alcohol dependence. British Journal of Addiction, 74, 7987.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Diagnosis of Depression in Alcohol Dependence: Changes in Prevalence with Drinking Status

  • Kate M. Davidson (a1)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *