Open Access Research article

Physical comorbidities in men with mood and anxiety disorders: a population-based study

Livia Sanna1, Amanda L Stuart2, Julie A Pasco24, Mark A Kotowicz24, Michael Berk2367, Paolo Girardi1, Sharon L Brennan245 and Lana J Williams23*

Author Affiliations

1 Unit of Psychiatry, Neurosciences, Mental Health and Sensory Organs Department (NeSMOS), Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sant’Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Via di Grottarossa 1035–1037 00189, Rome, Italy

2 School of Medicine, Deakin University: The Geelong Hospital, PO Box 281, Geelong 3220, Australia

3 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia

4 NorthWest Academic Centre, Department of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Western Health, 176 Furlong Road, St Albans 3021, Australia

5 Australian Institute of Musculo-Skeletal Science, NorthWest Academic Centre, The University of Melbourne, 176 Furlong Road, St Albans 3021, Australia

6 Orygen Youth Health, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville 3052, Australia

7 Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:110  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-110

Published: 24 April 2013



The mind-body nexus has been a topic of growing interest. Further data are however required to understand the specific relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and individual physical health conditions, and to verify whether these psychiatric disorders are linked to overall medical burden.


This study examined data collected from 942 men, 20 to 97 years old, participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. A lifetime history of mood and anxiety disorders was identified using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Research Version, Non-patient edition (SCID-I/NP). The presence of medical conditions (lifetime) was self-reported and confirmed by medical records, medication use or clinical data. Anthropometric measurements and socioeconomic status (SES) were determined and information on medication use and lifestyle was obtained via questionnaire. Logistic regression models were used to test the associations.


After adjustment for age, socioeconomic status, and health risk factors (body mass index, physical activity and smoking), mood disorders were associated with gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), recurrent headaches, blackouts and/or epilepsy, liver disorders and pulmonary disease in older people, whilst anxiety disorders were significantly associated with thyroid, GORD and other gastrointestinal disorders, and psoriasis. Increased odds of high medical burden were associated with both mood and anxiety disorders.


Our study provides further population-based evidence supporting the link between mental and physical illness in men. Understanding these associations is not only necessary for individual management, but also to inform the delivery of health promotion messages and health care.

Mood disorder; Anxiety disorder; Comorbidity; Medical burden; Population-based study; Physical illness