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Heavy Drinking in Youth Linked to Severe Depression

Heavy Drinking in Youth Linked to Severe DepressionYoung people who tend to overuse alcohol are much more likely to suffer from severe depression, anxiety or stress, according to a new study.

About 6,000 school-attending teens (ages 12 to 19) and 8,000 young adults (ages 17 to 25) were surveyed for the study by the youth mental health organization Headstrong and psychologists at University College Dublin.

Of the 14,000 participants, 38 percent reported harmful drinking behaviors and 7 percent showed signs of alcohol dependence. Of the latter group, a quarter had symptoms of severe or very severe depression.

“For young people we now see there is a link between excessive drinking and mental health,” said Barbara Dooley, Ph.D., research director at Headstrong and lecturer at UCD School of Psychology.

In fact, increased drinking corresponded with an increase in the severity of mental health problems. Severe or very severe depressive symptoms were found in 27 percent of adolescents with possible alcohol dependency, compared to 6 percent of adolescents with no drinking problems.

The report also showed a strong link between self-harm and depression, anxiety and stress. One-fifth of young adults reported self-harm without wanting to take their life. More than a quarter who self-harmed had severe or very severe depressive symptoms.

Seven percent of young adults reported they had attempted suicide. Fewer than half of these sought help after their attempt, the study noted.

Of these, one-third found it difficult or very difficult to get the support they needed. Support from a trustworthy adult was found to have a significant impact on lowering the chances of self-harm and attempted suicide.

Source: University College Dublin

Heavy Drinking in Youth Linked to Severe Depression

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2018). Heavy Drinking in Youth Linked to Severe Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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