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Psychosom Med. 2011 Oct;73(8):716-20. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31822ff9e8. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with reduced lung function in the Vietnam Experience Study.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom.



There is no clear consensus in the few studies to have explored the relationship between major mental health disorders and lung function. The present study examined the cross-sectional associations of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) with lung function in a large study of male US veterans.


Participants (N = 4256) were drawn from the Vietnam Experience Study. From military files, telephone interviews, and a medical examination, anthropometric, sociodemographic, and health data were collected. One-year prevalence of GAD and MDD was determined using DSM-III criteria. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second was measured by spirometry.


In models that adjusted for age and height, both GAD (p < .001) and MDD (p = .004) were associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second. In models additionally adjusting for weight, place of service, ethnicity, marriage, smoking, alcohol consumption, income, education, and major illness, GAD was still associated with poorer lung function (p = .01), whereas MDD was not (p = .18).


Depression has very much been the focus of studies on mental health and physical health status. The current findings suggest that future research should perhaps pay equal attention to GAD.

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