December 1971

Alcoholism in Women

Author Affiliations

Boston; Northampton, Mass; Boston
From Harvard Medical School (Drs. Belfer and Shader and Mr. Harmatz); Children's Hospital Medical Center (Dr. Belfer); the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston (Dr. Shader and Mr. Harmatz); and Smith College School of Social Work, Northampton, Mass (Dr. Carroll). Dr. Belfer is currently with the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md, and Dr. Carroll is currently with the Northwest Family Service Center, Somerville, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;25(6):540-544. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750180060010

Thirty-four acknowledged alcoholic women, and ten nonalcoholic women who accompanied their alcoholic husbands to clinic, were evaluated relative to their premenstrual function, depression, anxiety, femininity, and other parameters. Sixty-seven percent (14 of 21) of menstruating women and 46% (6 of 13) of nonmenstruating women in our alcoholic sample related their drinking to their menstrual cycles. All 20 women who related their drinking to the menstrual cycle indicated that drinking began or increased in the premenstruum. Alcoholic women were significantly more anxious and depressed than nonalcoholic wives, and alcoholic womens' scores were higher than appropriate normative values from our laboratory. Femininity scores were normal for the al coholic women. Acceptance or nonacceptance of feminine role behavior, heightened by the perception of premenstrual physiologic changes, may serve as a significant stress for alcoholic women.