Sociodemographic factors associated with comorbid major depressive episodes and alcohol dependence in the general population

Can J Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;49(1):37-44. doi: 10.1177/070674370404900106.


Objectives: To estimate the 12-month prevalence of alcohol dependence (AD) among subjects with major depressive episodes (MDEs) and the 12-month prevalence of MDEs among those with AD; to investigate the associations between demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and comorbid MDE and AD, based on established theoretical models; and to compare the rates of mental health service use between groups having high and low risk for comorbid conditions.

Methods: We used data from the 1996-1997 Canadian National Population Health Survey. MDE and AD were measured using the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF). We calculated the 12-month prevalence of MDEs among participants with AD and of AD among those with MDEs. The associations between demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and comorbidity were investigated.

Results: Of participants with MDEs, 8.6% had AD; 19.6% of participants with AD reported having at least 1 MDE in the past 12 months. Being young (aged 12 to 24 years); being divorced, separated, or widowed; and having low family income level were positively associated with MDE, AD, and comorbidity. Among participants with comorbid MDE and AD, those who were aged 12 to 24 years were less likely to have used any mental health services in the past 12 months than were others.

Conclusions: Young age, single marital status, and low family income may be potential risk factors for comorbid MDE and AD. Although AD is rare in the general population, public health interventions that target the groups identified as at risk may help to prevent MDE, AD, and comorbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Demography
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors