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Study: People With Depression More Likely to Have Heart Problems

July 17, 2020

A 14-year international study supported the power of the mind-body connection, noting that people who are depressed are more likely to have cardiovascular issues and die early than those with heart issues but no depression.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, examined more than 145,000 people in rural and urban parts of 21 countries. The most compelling deduction the research team offered was noting that the more depressed the participants were, the higher their risk for a variety of cardiovascular trouble. The results supported research published in JAMA Network Open earlier this year that labeled depression a risk factor for cardiovascular disease deaths in adults, especially males.

“One’s mental or emotional health is an important factor in overall health,” said Dr. Michael Dewberry, interim medical director of the Institute of Living, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. “Clinicians need to assess all aspects of an individual’s health, from the physical to the mental, in order to provide the most effective and comprehensive care.”

Depression and other mental health conditions such as anxiety are connected with many physical symptoms, including:

  • Headaches.
  • Digestive issues.
  • Immune problems.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Dulled mental acuity, speaking or movement.
  • Overeating or undereating.

This, Dr. Dewberry noted, could stem from the depressed person’s lack of interest in healthy behaviors such as exercise and meal planning, stress relief and engaging with family and friends.

“Depression often prevents us from taking care of ourselves, which can contribute to physical ailments such as heart disease,” he said.

Signs of depression include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in regular activities.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Feelings of sadness or irritability.
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
  • Weight loss or gain.
  • Sleeping too much or not enough.
  • Anxiety or feeling stressed.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

“Depression is very common and nothing to be embarrassed by. This study goes a step further, illustrating the importance of getting attention for depression to keep the rest of your body as healthy as possible,” Dr. Dewberry said.

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, the BHN has a 24/7 hotline with clinicians who can help. Call 833.621.0600.

The Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network is now scheduling virtual-health visits for mental health and addiction services. Call your provider for details. New patients can schedule a virtual visit by calling 1.888.984.2408.

For more information on the programs and services available through the Behavioral Health Network, click here.  

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