Work done by Dr Rosa Alati, a research fellow from The University of Queensland's School of Population Health, and colleagues from UQ and the University of Bristol, showed women who have more than 15 drinks a week have an increased risk of experiencing mental illness.

However Dr Alati said heavy drinking was also linked to smoking and women from low income groups were more likely to be heavy drinkers.

"In part these relationships may be responsible for the association between heavy drinking and symptoms of anxiety and depression," Dr Alati said.

The research is part of the Mater??“University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), which is Australia's largest longitudinal study tracking mothers and their children from pre-birth to early adulthood.

Dr Alati said light drinking ??“ up to 5 drinks per week ??“ was associated with the lowest rates of anxiety and depression when women were in their early 30s.

But at all three assessments, conducted when women were aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s, showed those who drank six or more drinks per week were more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety than those drinking less.

"For women in their 20s and 40s the lowest rates of symptoms were in those who did not drink any alcohol," she said.

She said the latest results point to a varying relationship between alcohol and depression and anxiety over the course of a woman's life.

Professor Neuwelt specialises in diagnosing and treating patients with CNS lupus. "It can be difficult to disentangle psychiatric disorders that arise from other causes," he states. In a portion of patients, depression, seizures, verbal comprehension, perception and memory will be associated with lupus. People are understandably afraid to admit that their IQ has gone down or that they cannot read any more in fear of losing their job," he continued. A careful history, ruling out other causes such as infection and drug side effects has improved diagnostic accuracy.

Professor Neuwelt, like others using this well-tested oncological drug in other forms of lupus, is concerned about the depletion of the B cells by rituximab for the long term. However, the risk/benefit ratio from this new treatment in its early stages is extremely promising. "It is the first drug in my 26 years of treating patients with severe central nervous system lupus, used alone or in combination with other therapies that has not only significantly boosted the quality of life for patients with this dreadful disease, but also reduced the burden of side effects of standard treatment with steroids and cyclophosphamide. However, we desperately need randomized-controlled trials." he concluded.