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Alcohol and Depression

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Are Genes or Lifestyle to Blame?

It's not always clear if depression makes you drink or vice versa. Studies of twins have shown that the same things that lead to heavy drinking in families also make depression more likely.

Researchers have found at least one common gene. It’s involved in brain functions like memory and attention. Variations in this gene might put people at risk for both alcohol misuse and depression.

Home and social environment also play a role. Children who were abused or raised in poverty appear to be more likely to develop both conditions.

Alcohol and Depression: What to Do

It probably won't hurt to have a glass of wine or beer once in a while for social reasons unless you have a health problem that prevents you from drinking. But if you turn to alcohol to get you through the day, or if it causes trouble in your relationships, at work, in your social life, or with how you think and feel, you have a more serious problem.

Alcohol abuse and depression are both serious problems that you shouldn't ignore. If you think you have a problem with either, talk to your doctor or psychologist. There are lots of choices when it comes to medication that treats depression, and there are drugs that lower alcohol cravings and counter the desire to drink heavily. Your doctor will probably treat both conditions together. You can also get help from Alcoholics Anonymous or an alcohol treatment center in your area.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 16, 2014
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