The Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), studying whether antidepressants affected alcohol consumption, has found that women suffering from depression consumed more alcohol than women who did not experience depression, regardless of antidepressant use. The findings differ significantly from male studies, where men suffering from depression generally consume more alcohol than non-depressed men, and those who use antidepressants consume alcohol at about the same level as non-depressed men.
"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 CAMH's Dr. Kathryn 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.
But for women, the alcohol use remained higher whether those experiencing depression took antidepressants or not. The numbers tell a worrying story: 179 drinks per year for non-depressed women, 235 drinks for depressed women not using antidepressants, and 264 drinks for depressed women who used antidepressants.
"We do not know whether antidepressants have different pharmacological effects on men and women, whether depression differs by gender, or whether the differences in the process of being treated for depression account for this discrepancy," cautioned Dr. Graham. "For example, physicians prescribing antidepressants may be more likely to caution men than women about their drinking." The research team added that further research is needed to assess whether this finding is due to drug effects or some other factor.
Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research