Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for non-recovery from common mental disorder: results from the longitudinal follow-up of the National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

Psychol Med. 2008 Mar;38(3):451-5. doi: 10.1017/S0033291707002000. Epub 2007 Nov 1.


Background: Alcohol is commonly considered to be associated with persistence of common mental disorder (CMD; anxiety/depression). However no community-based longitudinal studies have investigated the direction of causality.

Method: We examined the association between alcohol consumption and recovery from CMD using data on 706 community-based subjects with CMD who were followed for 18 months. Alcohol consumption at baseline was defined as hazardous drinking [Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) 8], binge drinking (defined as six or more units of alcohol on one occasion, approximately two to three pints of commercially sold beer) and dependence.

Results: When compared with a non-binge-drinking group, non-recovery at follow-up was associated with binge drinking on at least a monthly basis at baseline, although the confidence interval (CI) included unity [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.47, 95% CI 0.89-2.45]. There was also weak evidence that alcohol dependence was associated with non-recovery (adjusted OR 1.37, 95% CI 0.67-2.81). There was little evidence to support hazardous drinking as a risk factor for non-recovery (adjusted OR 1.12, 95% CI 0.67-1.88).

Conclusions: Binge drinking may be a potential risk factor for non-recovery from CMD, although the possibility of no effect cannot be excluded. Larger studies are required to refute or confirm this finding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects
  • Alcoholic Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Alcoholism / classification
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Beer / adverse effects
  • Beer / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology