Kate M. Loewenthal
Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK
Comorbidity of Depression and Alcohol Use Disorders. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 198 pages.
The alcohol-depression hypothesis stems from the observation that a raised prevalence of depression occurs in groups in which alcohol use is low. The hypothesis has to be reconciled with the well-established covariance of depressive disorders with alcohol abuse. The alcohol-depression hypothesis suggests that up to a point, alcohol use masks or inhibits depression. It also implies that cultures which support alcohol use will also support beliefs about the benefits of alcohol use, including mental health benfits. Conversely, alcohol use will be seen as dangerous and bad in cultures which do not support alcohol use. Evidence in support of the hypothesis is reviewed, chiefly from research focusing on Jewish groups. This research generally shows strong culturally-carried beliefs which do not tolerate recreational drinking or drunkenness, and which do not cover any possible mental health benefits of alcohol use. These beliefs go alongside low levels of alcohol consumption. Gender differences in drinking patterns are also considered. Other interpretations of the material are considered, and inconsistencies and gaps in research are identified.