Open Access Abstract:
A substantial number of people who have problems with alcohol also experience strong anxiety and mood problems. This article provides an overview of the evolving perspectives of this association in the context of three related disciplines—psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience. Psychiatric and epidemiological studies show that having either an anxiety- or alcohol-related diagnosis elevates the prospective risk for developing the other disorder. From the psychological perspective, behavioral research demonstrates that drinking to cope with negative affect is a potent marker for current and future problems with alcohol. Neuroscientific research implicates overlapping neurobiological systems and psychological processes in promoting the rise of negative affect and alcohol misuse. The psychiatric perspective that alcohol misuse and co-occurring anxiety represent neurobiologically distinct diagnostic conditions has dominated the field for many decades. However, recent research provides increasing support for the neuroscientific perspective that these conditions share underlying, mutually exacerbating, neurobiological processes.