A new Gallup Poll suggests that people who abstain from alcohol – also called teetotallers – are more likely to be depressed than moderate drinkers.
Based on the results of the poll – published Monday (Jan. 25) – at some point in their lives, nineteen percent of non-drinkers said that they had been diagnosed with depression, compared with thirteen percent moderate drinkers, and seventeen percent heavy drinkers. The poll included 350,000 adults in the U.S., and was conducted between January 2014 and December 2015.
Moreover, eleven percent of non-drinkers reported that they are currently depressed or receiving treatment for the condition, compared with only seven percent of moderate drinkers, and eight percent of heavy drinkers.
According to the Gallup Poll, moderate drinkers were also less likely to experience negative emotions, and more prone to experiencing positive emotions, than both heavy drinkers and non-drinkers.
George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said that the results were not surprising to him. Moderate drinkers probably drink in social settings, according to Koob. The happiness that stems from moderate drinking is likely a result of to social interactions, and there is definitely room for some moderate drinking in life, he explained.
An estimate of seventy percent people in the United Stated drink, and for the most part, they do not encounter any problems with it. If kept in moderation, drinking will not bring in the misery factor that occurs due to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, Mr. Koob said.
That being said, Gallup noted that the result of the poll do not show a cause-and-effect relationship between less depression and moderate drinking – which means that moderate drinking does not necessarily make a person happier.
Moderate drinking may have some emotional health benefits, but is also possible that individuals with poorer emotional health may choose to drink heavily, rather than moderately, according to Gallup. On the other hand, people with good mental health may be more inclined to drink moderately.
The poll defined moderate drinking as one to two drinks each day, or one to fourteen drinks a week, and heavy drinking as fifteen or more drinks a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the two slightly different from Gallup: moderate drinking is up to one drink each day for women and no more than two drinks each day for men. CDC defines heavy drinking as eight or more drinks a week for women and fifteen or more drinks a week for men.
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