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Mood-Related Drinking Motives Mediate the Familial Association Between Major Depression and Alcohol Dependence

Authors

  • Kelly C. Young-Wolff,

    1. From the Department of Psychology (KCYW, NDS, CAP), University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics (KSK), Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
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  • Kenneth S. Kendler,

    1. From the Department of Psychology (KCYW, NDS, CAP), University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics (KSK), Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
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  • Nicole D. Sintov,

    1. From the Department of Psychology (KCYW, NDS, CAP), University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics (KSK), Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
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  • Carol A. Prescott

    1. From the Department of Psychology (KCYW, NDS, CAP), University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California; and Departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics (KSK), Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
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  • Correction added after publication on 4 May 2009: in the preceding sentence, "30's" was incorrectly referred to as "30 seconds."

Reprint requests: Carol A. Prescott, PhD, Department of Psychology/SGM 501, University of Southern California, 3620 So. McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061; Fax: 213-746-9082; E-mail: cprescot@usc.edu

Abstract

Background:  Major depression and alcohol dependence co-occur within individuals and families to a higher than expected degree. This study investigated whether mood-related drinking motives mediate the association between major depression and alcohol dependence, and what the genetic and environmental bases are for this relationship.

Methods:  The sample included 5,181 individuals from the Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders, aged 30 and older. Participants completed a clinical interview which assessed lifetime major depression, alcohol dependence, and mood-related drinking motives.

Results:  Mood-related drinking motives significantly explained the depression-alcohol dependence relationship at both the phenotypic and familial levels. Results from twin analyses indicated that for both males and females, the familial factors underlying mood-related drinking motives accounted for virtually all of the familial variance that overlaps between depression and alcohol dependence.

Conclusions:  The results are consistent with an indirect role for mood-related drinking motives in the etiology of depression and alcohol dependence, and suggest that mood-related drinking motives may be a useful index of vulnerability for these conditions.

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