Original Paper

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 683-691

First online:

Comorbid anxiety disorders alter the association between cardiovascular diseases and depression: the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey

  • Phillip J. TullyAffiliated withDiscipline of Psychiatry, The University of Adelaide Email author 
  • , Bernhard T. BauneAffiliated withDiscipline of Psychiatry, The University of AdelaideRoyal Adelaide Hospital, The University of Adelaide

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This study aims to examine whether specific anxiety disorder comorbidity alters the purported association between depression and specific cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).


In 4,181 representative German participants of the general population, 12-month prevalence of psychiatric disorders was assessed through the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and CVDs by physician verified diagnosis. Adjusting for conventional risk factors logistic regression analyzed the association between CVDs (peripheral vascular disease (PVD), hypertension, cerebrovascular disease and heart disease) and combinations of comorbidity between depression and anxiety disorder types (panic disorder, specific phobia, social phobia and generalized anxiety).


There were 770 cases of hypertension (18.4 %), 763 cases of cerebrovascular disease (18.2 %), 748 cases of PVD (17.9 %), and 1,087 cases of CVD (26.0 %). In adjusted analyses phobia comorbid with depression was associated with cerebrovascular disease (odds ratio (OR) 1.61; 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.04–2.50) as was panic disorder (OR 2.89; 95 % CI 1.47–5.69). PVD was significantly associated with panic disorder (adjusted OR 2.97; 95 % CI 1.55–5.69). Panic disorder was associated with CVDs (adjusted OR 2.28; 95 % CI 1.09–4.77) as was phobia (adjusted OR 1.35; 95 % CI 1.04–1.78).


Classification of anxiety and depression according to comorbidity groups showed discrete effects for panic disorder and specific phobia with CVDs, independent from covariates and depression.


Cardiovascular diseases Vascular diseases Anxiety disorders Depression Comorbidity