Teenage depression linked to cardiac risk factors
Washington, March 17 : A new study suggests that depression suffered during teens may predispose people to higher cardiac risk factors as adults.
People who were depressed as teenagers are far more likely than their peers to be obese, smoke cigarettes and lead sedentary lives, even if they no longer suffer from depression, say researchers.
The study conducted by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that depression, even in children, can increase the risk of heart problems later in life, reports Science Daily.
"Part of the reason this is so worrisome is that a number of recent studies have shown that when adolescents have these cardiac risk factors, they're much more likely to develop heart disease as adults and even to have a shorter lifespan," says lead author Robert M. Carney, professor of psychiatry at the Washington University.
"Active smokers as adolescents are twice as likely to die by the age of 55 than non-smokers, and we see similar risks with obesity, so finding this link between childhood depression and these risk factors suggests that we need to very closely monitor young people who have been depressed."
Researchers have known for years that adults with depression are likely to have heart attacks and other cardiac problems. But it hasn't been clear when risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, obesity and sedentary lifestyle join forces with depression to increase the risk for heart problems.
"We know that depression in adults is associated with heart disease and a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or having serious complications," Carney says.
"What we didn't know is at what stage of life we would begin to see evidence of this association between depression and these cardiac risk factors."
The researchers presented their findings March 15 at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Miami, Florida.