Treating Depression Early May Protect the Heart – Heart disease and depression often go hand in hand. Long-term studies have found that people with depression have a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart disease, and vice versa. Recent research shows the link happens at an early age and is probably caused by chronic inflammation.
A new study in Psychosomatic Medicine by researchers looked at the scores of 865 young adults on a questionnaire that tests depression symptoms and other measures of mental health. They also examined measurements of the internal diameter of the blood vessels of the retina, a possible indicator of early cardiovascular disease.
After controlling for variables such as age, sex, smoking status, and body mass index, researchers found that participants with more symptoms of depression and anxiety had wider retinal arterioles than others, which could reflect the quality of blood vessels in their heart and brain.
The study co-author, Madeline Meier, a psychology professor at Arizona State University, says they don’t know if heart disease causes depression or vice versa, but she adds depression and anxiety symptoms may identify youth at risk for cardiovascular disease.