Alcohol consumption and internalising disorders in young adults of ALSPAC: a population-based study

Gwen Sascha Fernandes*, Gemma L Hammerton, Kushala W M Abeysekera, Liam L Mahedy, Alexis C Edwards, Glyn H Lewis, Matt Hickman, Jon E Heron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Depression and harmful alcohol consumption contribute significantly to the global health burden but in young adults, this relationship is under-researched and conflicted. The aim of this study was to determine the sex-based prevalence and the association between internalising disorders such as depression and alcohol use disorders. Method: Using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we assessed the sex-specific prevalence of ICD-10 diagnosed GAD, depression and fear-based anxieties (FBA) at 24 years (n=3572). We examined the association between internalising disorders and alcohol consumption using the AUDIT-C 5+ threshold and DSM defined criteria for alcohol dependence. Results: Women reported more GAD (11.6% vs. 6.5%), depression (13.4% vs. 6.9%) and FBA (1.3% vs. 0.5%) than men (p<0.001). Harmful drinking, after adjustment for sex and socioeconomic status, was associated with higher rates of depression (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.3-2.4, p<0.001), anxiety (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0-2.0, p<0.001) and FBA (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.04-5.56,p=0.009) compared to lower-risk drinkers. In contrast, hazardous drinking was associated with lower rates of GAD (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.54-0.88) and depression (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.54-0.86) compared with lower-risk drinkers. Conclusions: Young adults in the UK who drink harmfully are more likely to have depression and other internalising disorders. Further research should test whether there is a J-shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and mental health in young people and whether this varies across the life course.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number12
Early online date6 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2020


  • depression
  • anxiety
  • internalising disorders
  • alcohol use disorder
  • hazardous drinking


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