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Thursday, January 9, 2014

MS and Alcohol: Study Sheds New Light On Multiple Sclerosis Patients & Problem Drinking

A recent study on the relationship between MS and alcohol consumption is shedding new light on whether or not alcohol truly exacerbates serious emotional and psychological conditions in MS patients, as previous research suggested.
Past research on multiple sclerosis that studied the causes of an increased risk for mood disorders and suicidal thoughts in MS patients concluded that these behaviors were linked with alcohol consumption. However, the correlation between MS and alcohol consumption had not been directly studied, nor had empirical evidence to prove this assumption ever been produced. For example, a previous study from 2004 assessed the drinking patterns in 140 MS patients, focusing on an association with drinking and mood and anxiety disorders.  Lifetime psychiatric diagnoses were ascertained using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV disorders (SCID-IV).  The DSM-IV refers to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by clinicians and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric illness.
The results of this study demonstrated that one in six MS patients drink to excess over the course of their lifetime.  Patients with a history of problem drinking displayed a higher lifetime prevalence of anxiety but not mood disorders.  The study also found associations between problem drinking and a lifetime prevalence of suicidal thoughts. At that time, clinicians were warned about the possibility of problem drinking in MS patients and how this may complicate the course of their disease.  Clues to problem drinking in MS patients include the presence of a positive family history of mental illness and prominent anxiety.
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