Depressed mood and cause-specific mortality: a 40-year general community assessment

Ann Epidemiol. 2012 Sep;22(9):638-43. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.06.102. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


Purpose: The current study describes how the excess mortality risk associated with depression translates into specific causes of death occurring during a 40-year follow-up period, with focus on deaths related to injuries, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Methods: Data come from a cross-sectional survey (Community Mental Health Epidemiology Study) conducted in the early 1970s in Washington County, Maryland. Random sampling for the survey resulted in 2762 interviews. For the current analyses, baseline depressed mood was linked to current participant vital status through the use of death certificates.

Results: The relative subdistribution hazards for cardiovascular deaths (3.08 [1.74-5.45]) and fatal injuries (4.63 [1.76-12.18]) were significant during the entire 40-year period for young adults (18-39 years old at baseline). The relative subdistribution hazard for cardiovascular deaths during the first 15 years of follow-up was pronounced in elderly (≥ 65 years) males (2.99 [1.67-5.37]) subjects. There were no significant associations between depressed mood and cancer deaths.

Conclusions: Individuals in the general community with depressed mood may be at increased risk of deaths as the result of cardiovascular disease and injury, even several decades after exposure assessment. Young adults with depressed mood appear to be particularly vulnerable to these associations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*
  • Young Adult