OBJECTIVE: Our aims were to study associations between depressive disorders and alcohol dependence/abuse (ADA) in a female population-based sample, and to identify risk indicators common to both depressive disorders and ADA. METHOD: Three hundred and sixteen women in a stratified randomized sample were interviewed face to face. They were asked about their childhood/adolescence and alcohol habits. Clinical lifetime diagnoses according to DSM-III-R were made. Depressive disorders includes different mood disorders. RESULTS: Half the women with ADA also had a depressive disorder, and 25% of the women with depressive disorders also had ADA. Alcohol intoxication before the age of 15 and psychological and/or psychiatric problems before the age of 18 years increased the risk for ADA and depressive disorders in our study. CONCLUSION: Our results support previous findings of an association between depressive disorders and ADA, beginning early in life.