Depression and Bipolar info explaining the latest research in everyday English


Effects of alcohol on Bipolar Disorder

Water's Edge. Copyright Lee Hopkins

An interesting article from out of the Netherlands on the effects or otherwise (there’s a clue) of alcohol on mood state, in particular looking to see if excessive drinking leads to excessive mood states.

Previous research has shown a link between heavy drinking and onset of either depression (in women) or mania (in men). But this research was novel in that it followed up with research participants every day for a year, so it could see if increased drinking led to an adverse effect (depression or mania).

It turns out the effect is limited — AS LONG AS you stick to your medication. The participants in this study (137; 66% Bipolar I, 34% Bipolar II) all stuck to their medications and the effects of their drinking was limited.

But what wasn’t able to be determined was whether increased drinking led to minor depression or hypomania — the study hadn’t been designed for such eventualities. Something for a repeat study to consider, perhaps.

So the message is clear — ensure you stick to your medications and the likelihood of excessive drinking bringing a full-on adverse reaction are reduced.


van Zaane J, van de Ven PM, Draisma S, Smit JH, Nolen WA, van den Brink W. (2014). Effect of alcohol use on the course of bipolar disorder: one-year follow-up study using the daily prospective Life Chart method. Bipolar Disorders 2014: 16: 400–409

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