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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • alcoholism;
  • family research;
  • suicide;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • child abuse

Objective:  To compare clinical features of depressed subjects without alcoholism but with a family history of alcoholism to a depressed group without alcoholism and without a family history of alcoholism.

Method:  Clinical and demographic data of 209 depressed subjects without a history of alcoholism in first-degree relatives and 73 depressed individuals with a history of alcoholism in first-degree relatives were compared. Subjects with a personal history of alcoholism were excluded.

Results:  Depressed subjects with a family history of alcoholism have a significantly higher prevalence of reported childhood physical and sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), make more suicide attempts, and have greater intent to die at the time of their most lethal suicide attempt, compared to depressed subjects without a family history of alcoholism.

Conclusion:  Depressed patients with a family history of alcoholism are at greater risk for suicidal behavior and PTSD and may require more careful management.