Screen for Mood Disorders in Patients with Addictions

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WASHINGTON -- People who abuse substances are more likely to develop a mood disorder than are those who do not, Dr. Kathleen T. Brady said during the annual conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse.

Dr. Brady, professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, said the comorbidity of substance abuse and mood disorders is an increasingly serious concern in the psychiatric community.

Depression is the most common comorbidity, but bipolar disorder strikes a higher percentage of those who abuse substances--whether they be alcohol, cigarettes, or narcotics, Dr. Brady said at the meeting, which was sponsored by Brown Medical School.

Those diagnosed with an alcohol dependency, for example, are 1.3 times more likely to suffer from depression and 5.1 times more likely to have bipolar disorder, reported Dr. Brady, whose numbers were based on findings in the National Comorbidity Study. The impact of substance abuse on a bipolar disorder patient can be significant, as it has been shown to increase suicide rates, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations, as well as lead to poor treatment compliance.

Cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction also have a strong relationship with depression. Dr. Brady said 30%-60% of smokers have episodes of depression, while nicotine withdrawal can precipitate depression as well. …