SAN BERNARDINO, CA—Results of research on the relationship between both current and lifetime asthma and mental illness among veterans in the United States were published recently in the Journal of Asthma.

In the study, California State University-led researchers used the 2005-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, a national population-based survey.1

For purposes of the study, mental illness was defined as past year major depressive episode and doctor diagnosis of depression.

Included in the research were 20,581 veterans, with 4% having current asthma and 7.5% having asthma in their lifetime.

Results indicate a significantly higher prevalence of major depressive episode among veterans with current asthma, 8.23%, compared to those without, 4.68%. A similar trend was noted among those with lifetime asthma vs. those without—7.84% as opposed to 4.58%, respectively.

In addition, medical diagnosis of depression among veterans was higher among those with current asthma—11.83% vs. 5.86%—and lifetime asthma—10.32% vs. 5.76%—compared to those without the respiratory condition.

Upon adjusting for confounders, according to the researchers, current asthma was significantly associated with past year major-depressive episode, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR)  of 1.65, and depression diagnosis, with an aOR of 1.88.

At the same time, veterans with lifetime asthma, as compared to those without, had higher odds of past year major-depressive episode—aOR  of 1.56—and depression diagnosis—aOR of 1.66.

“The asthma/mental health nexus is significant among the U.S. veterans,” study authors concluded. “Such results warrant the need for integrated care to address mental health burden among veterans with asthma.”

  1. Becerra MB, Becerra BJ, Safdar N. A nationwide assessment of asthma-mentalhealth nexus among veterans. J Asthma. 2016;53(2):164-9. doi:10.3109/02770903.2015.1086785. PubMed PMID: 26549507.