The association between gastroesophageal reflux disease with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in a cohort study of Australian men

Zhi Xiang On, Janet Grant, Zumin Shi, Anne W. Taylor, Gary A. Wittert, Phillip J. Tully, Amie C. Hayley, Sean Martin

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aim: Previous clinical studies have demonstrated a relationship between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with anxiety and depression; however, few population-based studies have controlled for sleep disorders. The current study aimed to assess the relationship between GERD and anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders in a community-based sample of Australian men. Methods: Participants comprised a subset of 1612 men (mean age: 60.7 years, range: 35–80) who participated in the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress Study during the years 2001–2012, who had complete GERD measures (Gastresophageal Reflux Disease Questionnaire), and were not taking medications known to impact gastrointestinal function (excluding drugs taken for acid-related disorders). Current depression and anxiety were defined by (i) physician diagnosis, (ii) symptoms of depression (Beck Depression Inventory and Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) or anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), and/or current depressive or anxiolytic medication use. Previous depression was indicated by past depressive diagnoses/medication use. Data on sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and obstructive sleep apnea were collected along with several health, lifestyle, and medical factors, and these were systematically evaluated in both univariate and multivariable analyses. Results: Overall, 13.7% (n = 221) men had clinically significant GERD symptoms. In the adjusted models, an association between GERD and anxiety (odds ratio [OR] 2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0–6.8) and poor sleep quality (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.2–2.9) was observed; however, no effect was observed for current depression (OR 1.5; 95% CI 0.8–2.7). After removing poor sleep quality from the model, an independent association between current depression (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.7–3.8) and current anxiety (OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.8–6.0) and GERD was observed, but not for previous depression (OR 1.4; 95% CI 0.7–2.8). Conclusion: In this sample of urban-dwelling men, we observed a strong independent association between GERD, anxiety, and current depression, the latter appearing to be partly mediated by poor sleep quality. Patients presenting with GERD should have concurrent mental health assessments in order to identify potential confounders to the successful management of their symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1170-1177
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2017


  • anxiety
  • depression
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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