Background: Alcohol use has been shown to interfere with treatment for depression, but consumption habits are not routinely screened in primary care. To date, few studies have compared the alcohol consumption habits of patients with depression to the general population. The purpose of this study was to compare alcohol habits in adults diagnosed with depression in primary care to the general adult population in Sweden.
Methods: Nine hundred fourty six patients diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, without a primary substance use disorder, in primary care settings located across Sweden completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Consumptions habits and alcohol related problems in the depressed sample were compared to those in the general adult population (n = 663). Analyses were stratified by gender and age.
Results: Ratings of alcohol problems and measures of hazardous drinking and binge drinking were significantly higher among patients seeking treatment for depression in primary care compared to the general population. Male patients scored higher on the AUDIT total and AUDIT-C (consumption) subscale than men in the general population. Compared to younger adults (aged 17-27) older depressed adults (aged 28-50 and 51-71) exhibited higher rates of consumption and problems related to alcohol.
Conclusions: Compared to the general adult population, consumption and problems related to alcohol use were substantially higher among patients with mild to moderate depression in primary care. Routine screening of alcohol use in primary care is recommended for patients presenting with depression.