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Familial Transmission of Depression and Alcoholism

Kathleen R. Merikangas, PhD; James F. Leckman, MD; Brigitte A. Prusoff, PhD; David L. Pauls, PhD; Myrna M. Weissman, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(4):367-372. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790270057006.
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• The familial transmission of major depression and alcoholism among probands who had depression and alcoholism was examined. Our findings indicated that depressives without alcoholism did not transmit alcoholism, and probands with depression and alcoholism tended to transmit both depression and alcoholism. This confirms the observation that depression and alcoholism are not manifestations of the same underlying disorder. An increased risk of anxiety disorders in the relatives of probands with alcoholism, which could specifically be attributed to the presence of alcoholism in addition to an anxiety disorder in the proband, was also observed. This suggested that the alcoholism in these probands may result from self-medication of anxiety symptoms. The results of this study underscore the importance of examining combinations of diagnoses in patients in decreasing the heterogeneity of diagnostic categories.


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