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The Association of Depressive Symptoms and Pulmonary Function in Healthy Adults

Ochs-Balcom, Heather M. PhD; Lainhart, William MS; Mnatsakanova, Anna MS; Charles, Luenda E. PhD, MPH; Violanti, John M. PhD; Andrew, Michael E. PhD; Freudenheim, Jo L. PhD; Muti, Paola MD; Trevisan, Maurizio MD; Burchfiel, Cecil M. PhD, MPH; Schünemann, Holger J. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182a15672
Original Articles

Objective Chronic lung disease is exacerbated by comorbid psychiatric issues and treatment of depression may improve disease symptoms. We sought to add to the literature as to whether depression is associated with pulmonary function in healthy adults.

Methods In 2551 healthy adults from New York State, we studied the association of depression via the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) scale score and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) using general linear models and a cross-sectional design.

Results We identified statistically significant inverse trends in FEV1, FVC, FEV1%, and FVC% by CES-D category, especially in ever-smokers and men. When adjusted for covariates, the difference in FEV1 and FEV1% for smokers with more than 18.5 lifetime pack-years from CES-D scores 0 to 3 to 16 or more (depressed) is approximately 0.25 l and 5.0% (adjusted p values for trend are <.001 and .019, respectively). In men, we also observed statistically significant inverse trends in pulmonary function with increasing CES-D.

Conclusions We identified an inverse association of depressive symptoms and pulmonary function in healthy adults, especially in men and individuals with a heavy smoking history. Further studies of these associations are essential for the development and tailoring of interventions for the prevention and treatment of chronic lung disease.

From the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (H.M.O-B., W.L., J.M.V., J.J.F., P.M., M.T., H.J.S.), School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York; Biostatistics and Epidemiology Branch (A.M., L.E.C., M.E.A., C.M.B.), Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia; Departments of Oncology (P.M.) and Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Medicine (H.J.S.), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Department of Community Health and Social Medicine (M.T.), School of Biomedical Education, The City College of New York, New York, New York.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Heather M. Ochs-Balcom, PhD, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University at Buffalo, 270 Farber Hall, Buffalo, NY 14214-8001. E-mail:

Received for publication November 16, 2012; revision received June 12, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 by American Psychosomatic Society
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