Even Mild Depression Raises Risk For Premature Death

By Amir Khan on August 1, 2012 12:14 PM EDT

Depression
People who are mildly depressed or suffer from anxiety are at a higher risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, according to a new study, published in the British Medical Journal. (Photo: Creative Commons)

People who are mildly depressed or suffer from anxiety are at a higher risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, according to a new study, published in the British Medical Journal. The worse your depression or anxiety is, the greater your chance of dying, researchers said.

Researchers looked at data on more than 68,000 people and found that even very mild depression raised the risk of premature death from all causes by 20 percent. In addition, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was increased by 29 percent.

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"The fact that an increased risk of mortality was evident, even at low levels of psychological distress, should prompt research into whether treatment of these very common, minor symptoms can reduce this increased risk of death," Tom Russ, study author and a clinical research fellow at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Center of the University of Edinburgh, told HealthDay.

As the depression became more severe, the risk of death increased. People who were severely depressed were 94 percent more likely to die a premature death, according to the study.

One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 reported feeling symptoms of depression between 2005 and 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include hopelessness, feeling like a failure, poor appetite, lack of interest in activities and suicidal thoughts.

People with depression miss almost five workdays every three months, according to the CDC. Depression causes 200 million lost workdays every year and costs employers between $17 billion and $44 billion annually, according to U.S. health authorities.

Antidepressants were the most frequently used prescription drug by people aged 18 to 44 between 2005 and 2008, according to the CDC. From 1988 to 2008, antidepressant use increased by almost 400 percent. 

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the association is not new, and stressed that exercising and staying healthy is the best way to prevent cardiovascular death."For people with depression or anxiety, focusing on proven cardiovascular risk factor interventions, including maintaining healthy blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol levels, engaging in regular exercise and not smoking, may represent the best course of action to lower their cardiovascular risk," he told HealthDay.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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