Laryngeal Pathologies and Their Associations With Mental Health Disorders

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Objectives: Mental health disorders are very common. Understanding their clinical manifestations in terms of voice and laryngeal disorders (VLD) is important because they constitute a significant proportion of all patients seen by otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. In this study, we examine different mental disorders (MDs) and their presenting symptoms and diagnoses of VLD. Methods: Case series study, retrospective chart review of patients seen between January 2016 and December 2017 at the Johns Hopkins Voice Center. Diagnoses, demographic data, and comorbidities were collected. VLD were grouped into categories (laryngeal pathology, functional voice disorders, airway, swallowing, other) for statistical analysis. Results: Of a total 4,249 patients, 836 patients (19.7%) suffered from at least one MD. Those patients presented more frequently with swallowing problems (24.9% of all diagnoses in MD compared to 21.2% in control group; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.280, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.107–1.480, P =.001) and less frequently with vocal cord pathology (30.9% of all diagnoses in MD compared to 33.9% in control group, aOR 0.793, 95% CI 0.694–0.907, P =.001). Patients suffering from depression had significantly increased odds for dysphagia (aOR 1.570, 95% CI 1.216–2.026, P =.001). VLD clinical presentation profile was created for every MD studied. Conclusion: Patients suffering from mental health disorders present more frequently with swallowing complaints, in particular for dysphagia. Awareness of this can guide appropriate referrals. Objective laryngeal findings are common in patients with substance abuse disorders. They should be screened with careful diagnostic laryngoscopy. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 131:E231–E239, 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E231-E239
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Mental health disorders
  • depression
  • dysphagia
  • dysphonia
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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