Moderate alcohol drinking is not associated with risk of depression in older adults
The scarce research on the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on mental health among older adults suggests a protective effect against depression. We prospectively examined the association between patterns of moderate alcohol consumption, depression and psychological distress, using information from 5,299 community-dwelling older adults from the ELSA and Seniors-ENRICA cohorts. A Mediterranean drinking pattern (MDP) was defined as moderate alcohol intake (<40 g/day for men; <24 g/day for women) with a preference for wine and drinking only with meals. Depression was ascertained with the 10-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-10), a self-report of clinically-diagnosed depression, or being on anti-depressant medication (Seniors-ENRICA); and with the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) (ELSA). Psychological distress was assessed with the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12). Compared to never drinkers, moderate drinkers showed comparable scores on the ENRICA-GDS-10 (PRR (95%CI): 1.03 (0.84-1.26)), the ENRICA-GHQ-12 (0.88 (0.73-1.06)), the ELSA-CES-D (0.92 (0.79-1.06)) and the ELSA-GHQ-12 (0.75 (0.55-1.01). The MDP was not associated with the GDS-10 or GHQ-12 scores, or with clinically-diagnosed depression; however drinkers with a preference for wine showed an increased number of psychological distress symptoms (1.31 (1.03-1.66)). In conclusion, we found no consistent protective association between moderate alcohol consumption and depression in older adults.