Depressive Symptomatology and Vital Exhaustion Are Differentially Related to Behavioral Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease

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This study proposes to assess the differences of two psychosocial risk indicators for coronary artery disease (CAD), ie, depressive symptoms and vital exhaustion.


In a representative, stratified, nation-wide sample of the population of Hungary over the age of 16 years (N = 12,640), analyses were made of whether those risk indicators were differentially related to several illness behaviors (including history of cardiovascular treatment and cardiovascular sick days), cognitions, mood states, and socioeconomic characteristics that may generally be associated with increased CAD risk. The sample was stratified by age, sex, and composition of the population of all counties in Hungary.


Although depressive symptoms and vital exhaustion correlated strongly, there were clear and significant differences in strength of association between depressive symptoms, vital exhaustion and several variables under study. Dysfunctional cognitions, hostility, lack of purpose in life, low perceived self-efficacy, illegal drug use, alcohol and drug abuse, several forms of subjective disability complaints and history of treatment because of congenital disorders, and chronic skin and hematological disorders were more often associated with depressive symptoms, whereas loss of energy, use of stimulants, chest-pain-related disabilities, history of treatment because of cardiovascular disorders, and self-reported cardiovascular sick days were significantly more often associated with vital exhaustion.


Vital exhaustion and depressive symptomatology are differentially associated with relevant external criteria. Vital exhaustion is associated with perceived cardiovascular complaints and history of cardiovascular treatment, whereas depressive symptomatology seems to be more closely connected to disabilities and complaints related to alcohol, drug, and congenital-disorder, and to dysfunctional cognitions and hostility.

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