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To assess the risk of depression for subjects with or without heavy drinking occasions after adjusting for the average long-term alcohol consumption, age, gender, marital status, employment status, and chronic diseases.


In a cross-sectional population survey (N=3124) carried out in Finland in 1997, long-term average alcohol consumption was assessed by a self-administered quantity-frequency questionnaire. A heavy drinking occasion was defined as six or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women consumed at one session. The self-administered 21-item Beck Depression Inventory score of ≥10 was classified as clinically significant depression.


Ex-drinkers and subjects with heavy drinking occasions had more often clinically significant depression compared with lifelong abstainers and individuals without heavy drinking occasions. In addition to the drinking habit, the risk for clinically significant depression increased also with age. Men aged 45–64 years with heavy drinking occasions had 2.3 times higher risk for depression compared with young men (aged 25–34 years) without heavy drinking occasions. The respective risk for old women was 2.2 times higher.


Drinking pattern with heavy drinking occasions is independently associated with clinically significant depression irrespective of average long-term alcohol consumption.

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