Everybody seems to think that alcohol and depression go together like gin and tonic. Sure, depressed people might be more likely to imbibe, but according to a recent study, booze does not cause depression.
Clinical neuroscientists at the University of Western Australia believe they’ve debunked the long-held myth that drinking — especially heavy drinking — will make you depressed. The researchers collected data from 3,873 male participants with the genetic mutation most closely associated with alcohol metabolism — or in other words, the genetic variation that makes some people unable to hold their liquor. The study analyzed the association between that mutation, alcohol and depression.
“Now, if alcohol causes depression, then a genetic variation that reduces alcohol use and alcohol-related disorders, should reduce the risk of depression,” Professor Osvaldo Almeida, one of the researchers, told ScienceAlert. “The great advantage of looking at the gene is that this association is not confounded by any other factors – people are born like that.”
Though they did find a link between that genetic variant and reduced alcohol use, they found “it had no association with depression whatsoever,” Almeida said. The study’s main takeaway, then, is that alcohol neither causes nor prevents depression — in older men, at least.
But before you skip on over to the bar to begin pouring pure grain alcohol down your throat, the researchers do want to remind you that this “doesn’t mean alcohol is entirely safe and people can consume it in whatever way they like.” Bummer.