The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 938–943 | Cite as

Depression and Handgrip Strength Among U.S. Adults Aged 60 Years and Older from NHANES 2011–2014

  • Jessica M. BrooksEmail author
  • A. J. Titus
  • M. L. Bruce
  • N. M. Orzechowski
  • T. A. Mackenzie
  • S. J. Bartels
  • J. A. Batsis



Sarcopenia is a gradual loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging. This muscle deterioration is linked to increased morbidity, disability, and other adverse outcomes. Although reduced handgrip strength can be considered a marker of sarcopenia and other aging-related decline in the elderly, there is limited research on this physical health problem in at-risk groups with common biopsychosocial conditions such as depression. Our primary objective was to ascertain level of combined handgrip strength and its relationship with depression among adults aged 60 years and older.


Unadjusted and adjusted linear regression models were conducted with a cross-sectional survey dataset.


Secondary dataset from the 2011–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).


Community-dwelling, noninstitutionalized adults ≥60 years old (n=3,421).


The predictor variables included a positive screen for clinically relevant depression (referent=PHQ-9 score <10). The criterion variable of combined handgrip strength (kg) was determined using a dynamometer.


Mean age and BMI were 69.9 years (51.5% female) and 28.8 kg/m2, respectively. Mean combined handgrip strength in the overall cohort was 73.5 and 46.6 kg in males and females, respectively. Three hundred thirty-six (9.8%) reported symptoms of depression. In unadjusted and fully adjusted models, depression was significantly associated with reduced handgrip strength (B =–0.26±0.79 and B =–0.19±0.08, respectively; p<0.001).


Our findings demonstrate handgrip strength has a significant inverse association with depression. Future longitudinal studies should investigate the causal processes and potential moderators and mediators of the relationships between depression and reduced handgrip strength. This information may further encourage the use of depression and handgrip strength assessments and aid in the monitoring and implementation of health care services that address both physical and mental health limitations among older adult populations.

Key words

Handgrip strength sarcopenia depression epidemiology 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica M. Brooks
    • 1
    • 2
    • 10
    Email author
  • A. J. Titus
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. L. Bruce
    • 1
    • 5
  • N. M. Orzechowski
    • 6
  • T. A. Mackenzie
    • 7
    • 8
  • S. J. Bartels
    • 1
    • 5
  • J. A. Batsis
    • 5
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine and Centers for Health and AgingDartmouth CollegeLebanonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Rehabilitation and Health ServicesUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  3. 3.Quantitative Biomedical SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  4. 4.Department of EpidemiologyGeisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  5. 5.The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical PracticeLebanonUSA
  6. 6.Section of RheumatologyDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth CollegeLebanonUSA
  7. 7.Biomedical Data ScienceDartmouth CollegeLebanonUSA
  8. 8.Department of MedicineDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisel School of MedicineLebanonUSA
  9. 9.Centers for Health and AgingLebanonUSA
  10. 10.Department of PsychiatryLebanonUSA

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