Effects of Anxiety and Depression in Patients With Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Published:December 09, 2014DOI:

      Background & Aims

      Increased levels of anxiety and depression have been associated with esophageal hyperalgesia and an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We investigated the effects of anxiety and depression on GERD symptoms and the perception of reflux episodes in a well-characterized group of patients.


      We performed a prospective study of 225 consecutive patients who had symptoms of GERD evaluated. Patients underwent ambulatory 24-hour pH impedance monitoring, and levels of anxiety and depression were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.


      GERD was diagnosed in 147 patients (78 patients had functional heartburn); 36 patients were hypersensitive to gastroesophageal reflux. Among patients with GERD, increased levels of anxiety were associated with more severe retrosternal pain and retrosternal burning. Furthermore, increased levels of anxiety and depression each were associated with lower scores of the mental component of quality of life questionnaire. Levels of anxiety or depression were not associated with the number of reflux symptoms reported during 24-hour pH impedance monitoring or with the number of symptoms associated with a reflux event. Among GERD patients with hypersensitivity to reflux, levels of anxiety and depression and decreases in quality of life were similar to those of other patients with GERD. Patients with functional heartburn had higher levels of anxiety than patients with GERD.


      In patients with GERD, increased levels of anxiety are associated with increased severity of retrosternal pain and heartburn and reduced quality of life. Patients with GERD with hypersensitivity to gastroesophageal reflux have similar levels of anxiety and similar quality-of-life scores as other patients with GERD.


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      DIS (dilated intercellular spaces), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), HADS-A (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale part A), HADS-D (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale part D), IQR (interquartile range), PPI (proton pump inhibitor), SAP (Symptom Association Probability)
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