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Antidepressants Help Men Decrease Alcohol Consumption, but Not Women

“The fact that the relationship between the use of antidepressants and the level of alcohol consumption is different for men and women points to the importance of taking gender influences and sex differences into consideration in the treatment and prevention of many health conditions,” said Dr. Miriam Stewart, Scientific Director for CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. “This type of research reporting significant sex differences helps identify important clues for tailoring interventions.”

The scientists behind this study say further research is needed to assess whether this finding is due to drug effects or some other factor.

“We do not know whether antidepressants have different pharmacological effects on men and women, whether depression differs by gender, or whether the differences in the process of being treated for depression account for this discrepancy,” mentioned Dr. Graham. “For example, physicians prescribing antidepressants may be more likely to caution men than women about their drinking.”

For the study, 14,063 Canadian residents aged 18-76 years were surveyed. The survey included measures of quantity, frequency of drinking, depression and antidepressants use, over the period of a year.

The researchers used data from the GENACIS Canada survey, part of an international collaboration to investigate the influence of cultural variation on gender differences in alcohol use and related problems. CIHR provided over 1.3 million to GENACIS Canada (GENder Alcohol and Culture: an International Study). Over 35 countries and more than 100 leading alcohol and gender researchers are involved in the multinational study.

Every year, 12% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 years suffer from some form of a mental disorder or substance dependence.

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