Symptom Dimensions of Depression and Anxiety and the Metabolic Syndrome

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To investigate the association between depression and anxiety symptoms and the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn), using a dimensional approach. The association between depression and anxiety, on the one hand, and the MetSyn as a cluster or its individual components, on the other hand, is equivocal. The categorical nature of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition might partly explain the inconsistent findings.


In 2,433 Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety participants (mean age, 42.3 years; 33.1% male), three symptoms dimensions—lack of positive affect (PA, depression specific); negative affect (NA, aspecific); and somatic arousal (SA, anxiety specific)—were assessed by a shortened adaptation of the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire. The association between symptom dimensions and MetSyn components (waist circumference, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and mean blood pressure) was analyzed, using linear regression analysis.


The occurrence rate of the MetSyn was 20.1% (n = 490). SA, but not PA and NA, was strongly associated with four out of five MetSyn components, especially waist circumference, triglycerides, and blood pressure (β = 0.046, p = .01; β = 0.077, p < .001; and β = 0.069, p < .001, respectively), and with the total number of MetSyn components (β = 0.098, p < .001).


Our results demonstrate a strong association of most of the MetSyn components with the SA dimension, but not with the NA and PA scales.

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