Chonnam Med J.  2021 Jan;57(1):68-75. 10.4068/cmj.2021.57.1.68.

Association between Alcohol Drinking Status and Depressive Symptoms in Korean Adults

  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Korea
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea
  • 3Gwangju-Jeonnam Regional Cardiocerebrovascular Center, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Korea


We investigated the association between alcohol drinking status and depressive symptoms in a representative sample of South Korean adults using data from the 2017 Korea Community Health Survey (KCHS), which included 216,771 participants (99,845 men and 116,926 women). Depression was defined as a Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score of ≥10. Multivariate logistic regression using sampling weights was used to assess the relationship between alcohol drinking status and depression after adjusting for potential confounders. Alcohol intake was nonlinearly associated with depression; the risk of depression was the lowest in men who were moderate drinkers and women who were light drinkers. In men, heavy drinkers (odds ratio [OR] 1.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.19-1.67), light drinkers (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.94-1.36), infrequent drinkers (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.00-1.73), and lifetime abstainers (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.09-1.75) were at a higher risk of depression than moderate drinkers. In women, moderate drinkers (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.02-1.40) and heavy drinkers (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.33-1.84) were at a higher risk of depression than light drinkers; however, infrequent drinkers and lifetime abstainers were not at a high risk of depression. In both men and women, former drinkers were at a higher risk of depression (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.34-1.93 and OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.09-1.43, respectively). In conclusion, the association between alcohol drinking status and depression was nonlinear in both sexes. Further investigation of age- and sex-specific factors related to the association between alcohol use and depression is needed.


Alcohol Drinking; Depression; Health Surveys; Patient Health Questionnaire 9
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