The association between hypertension and depression and anxiety disorders: Results from a nationally-representative sample of South African adults
Objective: Growing evidence suggests high levels of comorbidity between hypertension and mental illness but there are few data from low- and middle-income countries. We examined the association between hypertension and depression and anxiety in South Africa. Methods: Data come from a nationally-representative survey of adults (n = 4351). The Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to measure DSM-IV mental disorders during the previous 12-months. The relationships between self-reported hypertension and anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and comorbid anxiety-depression were assessed after adjustment for participant characteristics including experience of trauma and other chronic physical conditions. Results: Overall 16.7% reported a previous medical diagnosis of hypertension, and 8.1% and 4.9% were found to have a 12-month anxiety or depressive disorder, respectively. In adjusted analyses, hypertension diagnosis was associated with 12-month anxiety disorders [Odds ratio (OR) = 1.55, 95% Confidence interval (CI) = 1.10-2.18] but not 12-month depressive disorders or 12-month comorbid anxiety-depression. Hypertension in the absence of other chronic physical conditions was not associated with any of the 12-month mental health outcomes (p-values all <0.05), while being diagnosed with both hypertension and another chronic physical condition were associated with 12-month anxiety disorders (OR = 2.25, 95% CI = 1.46-3.45), but not 12-month depressive disorders or comorbid anxiety-depression. Conclusions: These are the first population-based estimates to demonstrate an association between hypertension and mental disorders in sub-Saharan Africa. Further investigation is needed into role of traumatic life events in the aetiology of hypertension as well as the temporality of the association between hypertension and mental disorders. © 2009 Grimsrud et al.