Can patterns of alcohol use disorder in young adulthood help explain gender differences in depression?
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: To test whether gender differences in the prevalence of major depressive disorder differ by longitudinal patterns of alcohol use disorder symptoms. METHOD: Data are from a prospective longitudinal study examining a broad range of mental health and substance use problems. A gender-balanced sample of 808 participants was interviewed at ages 21, 24, 27, and 30. The sample was divided into subgroups corresponding to longitudinal patterns of alcohol use disorder derived from latent class growth analysis. RESULTS: Four patterns of alcohol use disorder symptoms were identified: A "low disorder symptom" group, a "decreaser" group, an "increaser" group, and a "chronic disorder symptom" group. Rates of depression were significantly higher for females only among those with a pattern of chronic or decreasing alcohol disorder symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated rates of depression among females in young adulthood may depend on patterns of co-occurring alcohol disorder symptoms. Practitioners should pay particular attention to signs of chronic alcohol use disorders and associated risks for depression among young adult women.