Major depression and all-cause mortality among white adults in the United States

Deyi Zheng, Caroline A. Macera, Janet B. Croft, Wayne H. Giles, Dorothy Davis, William K. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Depression is the most common psychiatric illness affecting adults. Despite the importance of a potential link between major depression and mortality, research has been surprisingly sparse. METHODS: Information on 57,897 white adults aged 25 years and older who were included in the mental health supplement of the 1989 National Health Interview Survey was linked with the National Death index to examine the relationship of major depression to mortality. Death status was obtained through December 1991. Sex-specific hazard rate ratios for mortality were calculated by Cox proportional hazards regression and Poisson regression to adjust for potential confounders (age, education, marital status, body mass index, and whether the target subject or a family member completed the survey about the subject). RESULTS: Major depression was reported for 223 (0.8%) of 27,345 men and 392 (1.3%) of 30,552 women. During the 2.5-year follow-up, death certificate data were obtained for 848 (3.1%) men and 651 (2.1%) women. The adjusted hazard rate ratios for all-cause mortality associated with major depression were 3.1 (95% confidence interval; 2.0-4.9) for men and 1.7 (95% confidence interval; 0.9-3.1) for women. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that major depression increases risk of all-cause mortality, particularly among men. Further research is needed to explain the mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • major depression
  • mortality
  • National Health Interview Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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