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