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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Excess risk of chronic physical conditions associated with depression and anxiety

Rituparna Bhattacharya12*, Chan Shen3 and Usha Sambamoorthi12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Policy, School of Pharmacy, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 9510, Morgantown, WV 26506-9510, USA

2 Center For Cardiovascular And Respiratory Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA

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BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:10  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-10

Published: 16 January 2014



Depression and anxiety have been reported to be associated with chronic physical conditions. We examined the excess risk of chronic physical conditions associated with depression and/or anxiety within a multivariate framework controlling for demographic and modifiable lifestyle risk factors.


We used a retrospective cross-sectional study design. Study participants were adults aged 22–64 years from 2007 and 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. We defined presence of depression-anxiety based on self-reported depression and anxiety and classified adults into 4 groups: 1) depression only; 2) anxiety only; 3) comorbid depression and anxiety 4) no depression and no anxiety. We included presence/absence of arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis as dependent variables. Complementary log-log regressions were used to examine the excess risk associated with depression and/or anxiety for chronic physical conditions using a multivariate framework that controlled for demographic (gender, age, race/ethnicity) and modifiable lifestyle (obesity, lack of physical activity, smoking) risk factors. Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons was applied and p ≤0.007 was considered statistically significant.


Overall, 7% had only depression, 5.2% had only anxiety and 2.5% had comorbid depression and anxiety. Results from multivariable regressions indicated that compared to individuals with no depression and no anxiety, individuals with comorbid depression and anxiety, with depression only and with anxiety only, all had higher risk of all the chronic physical conditions. ARRs for comorbid depression and anxiety ranged from 2.47 (95% CI: 1.47, 4.15; P = 0.0007) for osteoporosis to 1.64 (95% CI: 1.33, 2.04; P < 0.0001) for diabetes. Presence of depression only was also found to be significantly associated with all chronic conditions except for osteoporosis. Individuals with anxiety only were found to have a higher risk for arthritis, COPD, heart disease and hypertension.


Presence of depression and/or anxiety conferred an independent risk for having chronic physical conditions after adjusting for demographic and modifiable lifestyle risk factors.

Depression; Anxiety; Obesity; Smoking; Physical activity; Chronic physical conditions