According to a new Gallop Poll, moderate drinkers are the least likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to teetotalers and heavy drinkers. Findings from the survey indicated that 13 percent of moderate drinkers has been diagnosed with depression at one point in their lives, compared with 17 percent of heavy drinkers and 19 percent of non-drinkers.

Additionally, only 7 percent of moderate drinkers reported being currently depressed or receiving treatment for the condition, compared with 8 percent of heavy drinkers and 11 percent of teetotalers. The poll also revealed that moderate drinkers were a little more likely to report positive emotional experiences and a little less likely to report negative emotional experiences compared to both heavy drinkers and nondrinkers.

What experts say about the poll results

Generally, alcoholics tend to be miserable, partly because of the changes that occur in the brain due to drinking. Conversely, moderate drinkers only indulge in alcohol in social settings, usually joyful social encounters that lead to the happiness linked to moderate drinking. Experts claim that drinking in moderation does not lead to the misery associated with heavy drinking. Otherwise, more of the 70 percent of Americans who drink would be living in misery, which is not the case.

That said, experts are quick to point that the poll does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between less depression and moderate drinking. In other words, there is no certainty that moderate drinking will make you happier or less depressed. For instance, although people who are emotionally healthy may choose to drink moderately, it is also possible that those with poorer emotional health may prefer to drink heavily or completely abstain from alcohol compared to those with goof mental health.

Another reason why the poll may not be conclusive is because of the differences in definitions: while the poll defines moderate drinking as one or two drinks a day and heavy drinking as 15 or more drinks per week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as a maximum of one drink for women and two drinks for men, while heavy drinking is defined as an excess of eight drinks per week for women and 15 drinks for men.

Still, it is not too farfetched to conclude that nondrinkers are more likely to be depressed than moderate drinkers.


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