Arterial stiffness is associated with depression in middle-aged men - the Maastricht Study

J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2018 Mar;43(2):111-119. doi: 10.1503/jpn.160246. Epub 2017 Oct 12.


Background: Arterial stiffening may underlie the association between depression and cardiovascular disease (CVD), but reported data are inconsistent. We investigated the associations between aortic stiffness and major depressive disorder (MDD) and depressive symptoms, and whether these differed by sex and age.

Methods: We measured carotid to femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) using applanation tonometry, and we assessed depression using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) in a cohort of participants from The Maastricht Study. Logistic and negative binominal models were adjusted for age, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), mean arterial pressure (MAP) and CVD risk factors.

Results: We included 2757 participants in our analyses (48.8% men, mean age 59.8 ± 8.1 yr, 27% T2DM). We found that cfPWV was associated with MDD in men (fully adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.45-3.84), but not in women (OR 1.57, 95% CI 0.93-2.66), aged 60 years or younger. The ORs were not significant in individuals older than 60 years (men: OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.63-1.68; women: OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.32-1.31). Similarly, cfPWV was associated with a higher PHQ-9 score in men (rate ratio 1.28, 95% CI 1.09-1.52), but not in women (rate ratio 1.11, 95% CI 0.99-1.23), aged 60 years or younger. Associations were not significant in individuals older than 60 years (men: rate ratio 0.96, 95% CI 0.84-1.08; women: rate ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.90-1.12).

Limitations: We cannot rule out reversed causation in this cross-sectional study.

Conclusion: Greater aortic stiffness is associated with MDD and depressive symptoms among middle-aged men and to a lesser extent in women, whereas this association was not observed in old age.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*