Lifetime history of depression and anxiety disorders as a predictor of quality of life in midlife women in the absence of current illness episodes

Hadine Joffe, Yuefang Chang, Sammy Dhaliwal, Rachel Hess, Rebecca Thurston, Ellen Gold, Karen A Matthews, Joyce T Bromberger
Archives of General Psychiatry 2012, 69 (5): 484-92

CONTEXT: It is unknown whether a history of depression, anxiety disorders, or comorbid depression and anxiety affects subsequent health-related quality of life (HRQOL) during midlife in women when vasomotor symptoms (VMS) and sleep disturbance commonly disrupt QOL.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether previous affective illness is associated with low HRQOL during midlife in the absence of current illness episodes and whether low HRQOL is explained by VMS or sleep disruption.

DESIGN: Longitudinal, community-based study.

SETTING: Western Pennsylvania.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 425 midlife women in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation who completed the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) annually during 6 years of follow-up.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Scores on the SF-36 scales of social functioning (SF), role-emotional (RE), role-physical (RP), body pain (BP), and vitality.

RESULTS: Ninety-seven women (22.8%) had comorbid affective illness histories, 162 (38.1%) had previous depression only, and 21 (4.9%) had previous anxiety only. Those with comorbid illness histories and depression alone were more likely to report low HRQOL on the SF, RE, RP, and BP domains (odds ratio [OR] = 2.31-3.54 and 1.59-2.28, respectively) than were women with neither disorder. After adjustment for VMS and sleep disturbance, the comorbid group continued to have low HRQOL on these domains (OR = 2.13-3.07), whereas the association was significant on SF and BP only for the depression-alone group (OR = 2.08 and 1.95, respectively). Compared with women with neither disorder, the anxiety-only group had low HRQOL on the RP domain (OR = 2.60). Sleep disturbance, but not VMS, was independently associated with low HRQOL on all the domains except RE.

CONCLUSIONS: A history of both depression and anxiety has the most robust negative effect on HRQOL in women during midlife, an association not explained by VMS or sleep disturbance. For the depression-alone group, sleep disturbance may partially explain the negative impact of previous affective illness on HRQOL. Sleep disturbance remains an independent correlate of low HRQOL.

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