Does Depression Influence Asthma Exacerbation Frequency?

Rear view of an unrecognizable abused woman sitting on her bed looking out the window. Concept of gender violence, domestic violence and depression.
To what extent does depression influence asthma exacerbations? A population-based study presented at ATS 2022 examined the link between exacerbations and depression.

Among adults with asthma, the more frequently they feel depressed, the greater their chances of having an asthma exacerbation, according to study findings presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2022 International Conference, held in San Francisco, CA, May 13 to 18.

Both asthma and depression place a high socioeconomic burden on the health care system. Previous studies have linked asthma with social and cultural influences affecting behavior and emotional state. In the current study, researchers sought to examine the association between asthma exacerbations and depression.

To accomplish this, the researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of data from the CDC National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 2020, which collected a broad range of health information from a sample of 31,568 US adults. Of this sample, the researchers found that 14.2% of survey respondents had at some point experienced asthma, and 25% of these individuals had 1 or more asthma exacerbation within the previous 12 months. Among respondents who experienced asthma exacerbations in the past 12 months, occurrence rates were greatest in those with the greatest frequency of depression, with 41.4% of exacerbations occurring in those who felt depressed daily, 37.4% in those experiencing weekly depression, 27.6% in those with monthly depression, 25.3% in those reporting depression a few time a year, and 18.7% in those not reporting depression (all P <.0001).

Regression analysis, accounting for preventive medications, smoking, age, sex, and race, and comparing participants to the never-depressed cohort, showed that any level of depression resulted in greater odds of having asthma exacerbations; feeling depressed daily (aOR: 2.3; 95% CI, 1.5-3.5; P <.0001); weekly (aOR: 2.3; 95% CI, 1.6-3.3; P <.0001); monthly (aOR: 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.1; P =.04); and a few times a year (aOR: 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.0; P =.004).

Researchers concluded that, “Depressive symptom frequency is correlated with the likelihood of having an asthma exacerbation.” They urged the adoption of an “integrative multidimensional approach to healthcare for patients suffering from asthma.”


Misra S, Desai S, Ozen E, Ray AS. Correlation between asthma exacerbations and depression. Presented at: the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2022 International Conference; May 13-18, 2022; San Francisco, CA. Abstract P178.