RA and DAL developed the study aim and design. WB, JN, MO and GW set up, and are responsible for, the conceptual development and continued management of the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy and its outcomes. RA wrote the first draft of the paper and DAL undertook the analysis. All authors contributed to the final version of the paper.
Is there really a ‘J-shaped’ curve in the association between alcohol consumption and symptoms of depression and anxiety? Findings from the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy and its outcomes*
Article first published online: 22 APR 2005
Volume 100, Issue 5, pages 643–651, May 2005
How to Cite
Alati, R., Lawlor, D. A., Najman, J. M., Williams, G. M., Bor, W. and O'Callaghan, M. (2005), Is there really a ‘J-shaped’ curve in the association between alcohol consumption and symptoms of depression and anxiety? Findings from the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy and its outcomes. Addiction, 100: 643–651. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01063.x
- Issue published online: 22 APR 2005
- Article first published online: 22 APR 2005
- Submitted 21 June 2004; initial review completed 17 September 2004; final version accepted 16 December 2004
- J-shaped association;
- longditudinal study
Aims To determine the nature of the association between alcohol consumption and symptoms of anxiety and depression in women.
Design Prospective cohort study of women (n = 4527) who received antenatal care at a major public hospital (Mater Misericordiae Hospital) in South Brisbane between 1981 and 1984 and who have follow-up data on alcohol use, depressive and anxiety symptoms over a 14-year period.
Findings At the 5-year follow-up there was a ‘J-shaped’ association between alcohol consumption and both symptoms of depression and of anxiety. However, at the baseline assessment and the 14-year follow-up alcohol consumption was linearly and positively associated with depressive symptoms with increasing prevalence of symptoms with greater consumption. At the 5-year follow-up the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms among those who were abstainers at both baseline and 5-year follow-up was similar to that among those who had been previous drinkers and then become abstainers (P = 0.67). Similarly, the prevalence of these symptoms was the same at the 14-year follow-up comparing those who had been abstainers at baseline, 5-year and 14-year follow-up to those who had previously consumed alcohol but were then abstainers.
Conclusions The nature of the association between alcohol consumption and symptoms of depression and anxiety may vary across their life course in women. Previous drinkers who become abstainers do not appear to be at any higher risk of symptoms of depression or anxiety compared to those who always abstained, suggesting that increased symptoms in abstainers at age 30 is not due to ‘sick quitters’. The association of high alcohol consumption with symptoms of depression and anxiety may be confounded by low income and smoking.