Socioeconomic Status, Alcohol Use Disorders, and Depression: A Population-Based Study
Depressive disorders (DD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) frequently co-occur. They are key to understanding the current increases in “deaths of despair” among individuals with lower socioeconomic status (SES). The aim of this study was to assess the prospective bidirectional associations between AUD and DD, as well as the effect of SES on these two conditions.
The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions is a cohort study representative of the U.S. adult population, which began in 2001–2002, with follow-up interviews conducted 3 years later. SES was primarily operationalized as educational attainment. AUD, DD, and their levels of severity were defined according to the DSM-5 criteria.
The risk of developing an incident DD increased gradually with the recency and the severity of AUD at baseline, but the converse was not observed. Lower SES was an independent risk for incident AUD or DD. SES did not modify the prospective association between AUD and DD.
The absence of interaction between SES and moderate or severe AUD for the incident DD must be considered with caution due to the limited number of DD cases reported in these AUD categories.
This result is consistent with a causal relationship between AUD and DD, and suggests that therapeutic interventions for AUD may also have beneficial effects to lower DD rates. The independent effects of a lower SES and AUD on DD may result in a vulnerable population cumulating disorders with heavy consequences on health and social well-being.