Mental Health History Hurts

Depression and anxiety simultaneously associated with lower quality of life

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) By mid-life many women have experienced at least one episode of major depression or anxiety. These occurrences may not seem like a big deal, but research shows that such episodes are linked with lower Quality of Life.

According to a new study, women with a history of both anxiety and depression are likely to have lower Health Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) scores, even if they are not currently suffering from either disorder.

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The study was led by Hadine Joffe, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“The results of this study show that in the absence of a current illness episode, women with previous histories of depression and anxiety disorders and those with previous depression only are at risk for compromised QOL in multiple domains during midlife, whereas a history of anxiety disorders alone seems to have a more limited effect on HRQOL,” write the study authors.

The study asked 425 women in mid-life who were part of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) survey to participate.

The women were interviewed using the standard for diagnosing depression and anxiety, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV).

The women were also asked to complete a health survey annually for six years.

Of the 425 women, 97 had a history of both anxiety and depression (22.8 percent). While 162 had a history of depression alone (38.1 percent) and only 21 had a history of anxiety alone (4.9 percent).

The researchers found that those women with a history of both were more likely to report a low HRQOL score, particularly in the areas of social functioning, emotional and physical health, and body pain.

These results remained true even after the team adjusted for other factors that can affect HRQOL, like vasomotor symptoms and sleep disruption.

The study was published online May 7th, 2012, in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was funded by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services. H. Joffe has received research support from and has served as a consultant to JDS-Noven Pharmaceutical, Pfizer Inc, and Sunovion.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 8, 2012
Last Updated:
May 9, 2012