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Chicken vs. egg: alcohol or depression which came first?

Author: Chris Bennett
Published: Oct 17 2012

Studies have found strong links between alcohol abuse and depression. However doctors, therapists and research is divided when it comes to which leads to the other. While it is true that excessive alcohol consumption may lead to depression it is also correct that people who are depressed are more likely to drink to excess. It is also possible that both alcoholism and depression share common triggers from both environmental risk and genetics.

Alcohol and Depression

Some studies have indicated that alcohol abuse will increase risks for depression. According to our dui Charlotte NC law firm, alcohol abusers are known to have very serious repercussions that lead to financial and legal issues not to mention endangering the safety of themselves and others. The resultant impaired thinking of alcohol abuse leads to many other health and social problems. This is because of connections between direct neurotoxic effects of alcohol to the brain. Researchers have determined that this predilection makes it easier for excessive alcohol consumption to lead to depression.

It is not entirely clear whether depression is what triggers alcohol abuse or vice versa. However in studies of twins it has been found that the same factors contribute to both families with major depression and heavy drinking.

The home, work and social environments also play a factor in whether a person could develop either depression or drinking problems or both. For example abused children have a propensity toward developing both conditions.

Depression and Alcohol

It is estimated that nearly one third of people with major depression also abuse alcohol. In some cases it is believed that depression occurs first. For example research has shown that children with depression are more likely to develop an alcohol problem during adolescence. Depressed teens are also twice as prone to start drinking alcohol to self medicate than those who are not depressed.

Having a drink periodically to lift spirits is not considered an issue. It is when a pattern develops to reach for alcohol to solve everyday problems rather than actually dealing with them that leads to abuse. There are some who drink to get over difficult situations like breakups, job loss and other stressful situations. In these cases it would appear that depression led to alcohol abuse however it is not for certain.


Drinking only worsens depression which makes it an ineffective remedy or solution. Therefore people who are depressed and abuse alcohol are doubling their troubles such that more severe problems may surface including thoughts of suicide.

Both alcohol abuse and depression are very serious problems that should not be ignored. Anyone who believes they have an issue for alcohol, depression or both should seek medical or mental health assistance. There are also organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment centers to consider.

In the scheme of things it is not whether alcohol abuse or depression came first that truly matters. The bottom line is that both alcoholism and depression need to be dealt with as expediently as possible in order to assure a successful recovery for either or both conditions.

Chris Bennett is a freelance writer and contributing author for Powers McCartan, a dui Charlotte NC law firm. A DUI charge is a serious issue and conviction will have a dramatic effect on your life. The North Carolina law firm of Powers McCartan is a partnership of professional associations dedicated to your legal representation.

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