BACKGROUND: Depression and anxiety are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but their relationship to blood pressure (BP) is less clear. Age-related comorbidity and lifestyle factors may confound these relationships. This study aimed to assess the relationships among BP, depression and anxiety symptom scores and self-reported history of depression in young adults.
METHOD: Data on 1014 participants aged 20 years from the Western Australian Cohort (Raine) Study were analyzed for cross-sectional associations between clinic BP and Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale questionnaire scores or a reported history of depression, accounting for relevant confounders.
RESULTS: Multivariable adjusted analyses showed an inverse relationship between SBP with depression (coefficient = -0.10; P = 0.012) and anxiety (after excluding two outliers with SBP > 156 mmHg, coefficient = -0.13; P = 0.018) scores, independent of sex, BMI, female hormonal contraceptive use, alcohol consumption, birth weight and maternal hypertension in pregnancy. SBP was 1.6 mmHg lower for 2 SD (16 units) increase in depression score. There was an inverse association between self-reported history of depression (15.8% of participants) and SBP (coefficient = -1.91; P = 0.023), with an interaction with increasing BMI (interaction coefficient = -0.43; P = 0.002) enhancing this difference.
CONCLUSION: Our findings show that SBP in young adults is inversely associated with depression and anxiety scores, independent of a range of lifestyle confounders. Despite a positive association between BMI and BP, adiposity enhanced the inverse association between self-reported history of depression and SBP. These findings contrast with the predisposition of depressed participants to cardiovascular disease in later life when decades of unhealthy lifestyle changes may dominate.