Excessive drinking is known to cause several serious health issues among adolescents. A new study has found that alcohol dependency in adolescence raises the chances of developing depression in young adults.

Alcohol use disorder makes people dependent on alcohol, and they find it difficult to stop drinking or limit the quantity of intake. They also experience reduced interest in social and work activities and show withdrawal symptoms. Even when the habit starts affecting health, life and work, alcohol-dependent individuals find it tough to stop drinking.

The latest study by a team of researchers from UCL (University College London) and the University of Bristol suggests adolescents who show signs of alcohol dependence are more likely to develop depression by their mid-20s.

"By using a large, longitudinal dataset, we have found evidence that problematic drinking patterns in late adolescence may increase the risk of developing depression years later," co-lead author Dr. Gemma Lewis said. "Problematic drinking patterns could be a warning sign of future mental health problems, so helping young people to avoid problematic alcohol use could have long-term benefits to their mental health."

The study examined the association between signs of problematic drinking, or alcohol dependence at the age of 18, and depression six years later.

Researchers found that people who were alcohol dependent from the age of 17 to 22 were more likely to have depression at age 24 than their peers who were not dependent. The study also suggests that heavy-drinking adolescents who had no signs of dependency did not show an increased risk of depression.

The participants were measured on an alcohol dependency scale, where an increase from zero to one score represents a 28% increase in the probability of not being able to stop drinking. Those who scored zero alcohol dependence at age 18 showed an 11% probability of depression, while those with a score of one had a 15% probability.

"While we found that alcohol consumption alone did not appear to increase the probability of depression, heavy drinking can be a precursor to dependence and can have harmful physical health impacts in the longer term as well. High frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption, therefore, remain important as targets to prevent or reduce during adolescence," co-lead author Gemma Hammerton said.