Mental disorders and asthma in the elderly: a population-based study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2007 Jul;22(7):668-74. doi: 10.1002/gps.1728.


Background: Clinical studies have mostly linked anxiety disorders with asthma in young patients, but the data are inconsistent for depression. Few population-based studies have investigated the co-morbid diagnoses of mental disorders with asthma in older adults.

Method: Cross-sectional study of a population sample of older adults aged 60 and above (n = 1092). The diagnoses of recent depression and anxiety were made using the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) Schedule. The presence of asthma was ascertained by self-reports of physician-diagnosed asthma.

Results: Asthma was associated with a higher prevalence of depressive disorders, with odds ratio of 2.45 (95% CI, 1.06-5.69) when compared against non-asthmatic controls; and 2.42 (95% CI, 1.04-5.64) when compared against controls with other chronic illnesses, after adjusting for psychosocial factors, physical co-morbidity and use of depression-causing drugs. Odds ratios were elevated but statistically insignificant for anxiety disorders and dementia.

Conclusion: We observed that asthma in the elderly was more evidently associated co-morbidly with depression, rather than anxiety disorder. However, possible associations with anxiety and dementia are not excluded, and should be further investigated.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Singapore
  • Statistics as Topic