Binge Drinking Is Putting Australian Women At Risk Of Depression

Sixteen per cent of young Australian women have been classified as "extremely frequent" binge drinkers and may be increasing their risk of depression, according to new research from the University of Newcastle (UON).

Jennifer Powers from UON’s Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing said her findings provide further evidence of the need for new prevention strategies to curb binge drinking in adolescence.

The research was based on data reported by more than 8,000 women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). The study identified five binge drinking patterns between the ages of 16 and 21.

Ms Powers said 16 per cent of women reported having five or more drinks per session (binge drinking) extremely frequently — usually more than once a week.

"The women in this binge drinking category were at elevated risk of depressive symptoms in both the short-term of one to six years, and the long-term of 10 to 15 years," Ms Powers said.

"These findings suggest that there is a lasting impact of heavy drinking on mental health and that there is a threshold where the risk of depression not only increases but is sustained over time."

The research found that 26 per cent of young women were binge drinking 'very frequently' — usually once a week, and for 17 per cent it was a 'frequent' occurrence, mostly around once a month.

About 17 per cent of women reported that their binge drinking had fluctuated but was usually rare, while 24 per cent reported that they had rarely engaged in binge drinking.

To investigate whether binge drinking preceded depression, researchers excluded data from women who reported symptoms of depression at baseline, but Ms Powers said it is clear the relationship is complex.

"Further research is needed to investigate whether poor mental health leads to binge drinking, or whether there could be a two-way relationship," she said. "For example, women with mild depressive symptoms may be using heavy drinking as a means of self-medicating.

"Given the high rates of depression among young women more consideration should be given to prevention strategies to decrease the frequency of binge drinking in adolescence."

[Drug and Alcohol Dependence]


Comments

    well this is the old cause and effect argument. I imagine that despite their attempt to exclude pre-existing depression cases, many of those remaining were simply undiagnosed ie depressed people are more likely to binge drink but it wasn't diagnosed until after they were drinking.

    Last edited 22/02/16 11:53 am

      To investigate whether binge drinking preceded depression, researchers excluded data from women who reported symptoms of depression at baseline, but Ms Powers said it is clear the relationship is complex.That right there implies cases diagnosed with depression or undiagnosed but with symptoms of depression were excluded. A measure like that won't completely remove every possible case, since diagnosis requires an amount of self-reporting, but it provides a much cleaner slate that what you propose.

    I was thinking the same thing, at least they mention it though. It seems like almost every other one of these studies completely ignores that question. They do it for smoking, exercise, weight gain ect ect ect. They find a correlation and pin it as the cause without really eliminating any other variables. I guess it gets them publicised.

    Last edited 22/02/16 2:21 pm

    Good to know binge drinking doesn't affect the mental health of men.

      I wouldn't suggest drawing that conclusion from a study that solely comprised of women.

      I wouldn't suggest drawing that conclusion from a study that solely comprised of women.

    This doesn't surprise me considering how rampant mental illness has become and the overmedication of the population

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