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Article
May 1991

Depression Among AlcoholicsRelationship to Clinical and Cerebrospinal Fluid Variables

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Clinical Studies, DICBR, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(5):428-432. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810290040007
Abstract

• Although depression is common among alcoholics, its determinants are poorly understood. Among 339 alcoholics, 111 (33%) had a history of major depression. Depressed, compared with never-depressed alcoholics, had a higher daily alcohol intake, more lifetime diagnoses of other anxiety and affective disorders and drug abuse, more had attempted suicide, and more reported alcoholism in both parents. Depressed alcoholics also had significantly lower cerebrospinal fluid levels of the dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid and of γ-aminobutyric acid. Among subgroups of depressed alcoholics, secondary compared with primary depressives were more often divorced, of lower social status, with an earlier onset of alcoholism, and higher Michigan Alcohol Screening Test scores. Secondary depressives also had significantly lower cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of homovanillic acid than never depressed alcoholics. These results suggest that certain psychosocial variables, alcohol consumption, and neurochemical variables may be specifically associated with depression in alcoholics.

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