07 September 2009

Non-drinkers more depressed, anxious

While alcohol may be considered a depressant, teetotalers as well as heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than moderate tipplers.


While alcohol may be considered a depressant, teetotalers as well as heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than moderate tipplers, a new study has found.

Norwegian and British researchers also found that people who don't drink report having fewer friends than drinkers do, a possible reason for their increased likelihood of being depressed.

"We see that this group is less socially well-adjusted than other groups," study co-author Dr Eystein Stordal, an adjunct professor in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's neuroscience department, said in a university news release. "Generally when people are with friends, it is more acceptable in Western societies to drink than not to drink. While the questionnaire recorded non-drinkers' subjective perception of the situation, a number of other studies also confirm that teetotalers experience some level of social exclusion."

Another possible explanation, the researchers said, had to do with general health of the teetotalers.

"We found on average that there were more people with physical complaints among the non-drinkers than in the other groups," Stordal said. "These individuals are more likely to use medicines that mean they shouldn't drink. But it may also be true that having such an illness increases a person's tendency to be anxious or depressed."

The study, based on a survey of 38,000 Norwegians and published in the August online edition of the journal Addiction, found high levels of depression and anxiety even when it factored out people who abstained from drinking because of previous problems with alcohol. In all, roughly 17% of abstainers reported having anxiety and nearly 16% reported having depression.

The researchers also found that people who averaged only two drinks per week reported the fewest bouts with depression or anxiety. - (HealthDay News, September 2009)

Read more:
Family history worsens depression
Healthy drinking disputed


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules