Depression is a common mental health problem among veterans, with high mortality. Despite the numerous conducted investigations, the prediction and identification of risk factors for depression are still severely limited. This study used a deep learning algorithm to identify depression in veterans and its factors associated with clinical manifestations.
Our data originated from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005–2018). A dataset of 2,546 veterans was identified using deep learning and five traditional machine learning algorithms with 10-fold cross-validation. Model performance was assessed by examining the area under the subject operating characteristic curve (AUC), accuracy, recall, specificity, precision, and F1 score.
Deep learning had the highest AUC (0.891, 95%CI 0.869–0.914) and specificity (0.906) in identifying depression in veterans. Further study on depression among veterans of different ages showed that the AUC values for deep learning were 0.929 (95%CI 0.904–0.955) in the middle-aged group and 0.924(95%CI 0.900-0.948) in the older age group. In addition to general health conditions, sleep difficulties, memory impairment, work incapacity, income, BMI, and chronic diseases, factors such as vitamins E and C, and palmitic acid were also identified as important influencing factors.
Compared with traditional machine learning methods, deep learning algorithms achieved optimal performance, making it conducive for identifying depression and its risk factors among veterans.