A Canadian study published in July has found that women who are depressed are much more likely to develop heart disease.
The study focused on a group of 4,948 men and women aged over 40 years who were followed for around 12 years. The study found that women who experienced depression in some form were around 70% more likely to develop heart disease than women who experienced no depression over that period. Depressed men on the over hand did not appear to be any more likely to develop heart disease than those men who were not depressed.
The study backs up the findings of similar studies in the past that have found depression is strongly linked to heart problems. It is believed that cortisol, which is a stress hormone, is found in higher levels in stressed individuals. High cortisol levels are believed to have many negative effects on the body such as increased blood pressure, impaired insulin sensitivity, headaches and increased fat levels around the belly area.
It is also possible that depressed people are less likely to care about their health and therefore might engage in poor lifestyle choices such as poor eating habits, smoking, drinking, and a lack of physical exercise according to many professional counsellors. These in turn leads to further problems. In less developed countries depression is the main reason of pregnancy complications. That is why mortality rate of women and children is so much higher there.
While this particular study did not find a direct link between depression and heart disease in men, other studies have found evidence of a relationship. One study, published in the British Medical Journal in 1998, found that men who had been diagnosed with depression were three times more likely to develop heart disease.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the western world and accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths in the United States each year.