Why Depression Could Weigh Heavily on Your Heart

Of all mental health problems, perhaps none is more impactful than depression. In fact, nearly five percent of all adults in the United States are believed to have this condition. Aside from affecting the mind, research suggests that depression might likewise impact the heart.

Across the Globe

A 2020 study from Simon Fraser University concluded that those living with depression might not only be at greater risk of heart disease, but also from premature death. Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, this study tracked a sizable number of middle-aged adults across the world, as data from over 145,000 participants was collected and analyzed. 

So what did all this work reveal? Despite collecting information from twenty-one different countries, the results were the same around the planet – depressed people were more likely to experience poor heart health. Specifically, adults who exhibited at least four symptoms of depression saw their risk of adverse cardiovascular events rise by 20 percent. Furthermore, this already elevated risk doubled when the authors looked at depressed individuals living in urban areas. This is an especially worrying finding, given that the majority of the world’s population will reside in urban areas by mid-century.

A New Approach?

In light of the report’s findings, the study authors contend that depression should be viewed as a major risk factor for serious heart problems. In fact, they argue that this condition could be as important as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol when determining a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease. In summary, the research team believes that it will take a worldwide effort to address the issue of depressive illness. 

Depression shows no signs of fading in the United States and abroad as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 16 million U.S. adults suffered one or more depressive episodes in 2016 alone and over 260 million people live with depression across the globe.

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