There's been a lot of attention paid to the association of depression to heart disease. Many wonder whether depression can put a person more at risk for heart disease. "The answer is very likely," said Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology. "A study from Johns Hopkins in 2012 showed there was 3-to-4 times higher risk of cardiovascular death or injury when people were depressed as compared to people without depression. Another study from June of this year also showed among patients with known or suspected coronary disease depressive symptoms were associated with increased risk of death particularly in younger women."
But, the reasons why remain a mystery. "We actually don't know the true mechanism," Artang said. "There are however 2 aspects of this to look at. One is that people with depression may ignore some of the classical symptoms of heart disease such as shortness of breath or chest pain until it is too late. The other aspect is, that once a person has had a heart attack, sometime they develop a some degree of depression up to a year after their heart attack particularly in men."
What is the definition of clinical depression? "Depression is a terrible disease," Artang said. "We all can be upset or sad about loosing a loved one, business, property. But clinical depression is different. It is more severe and disabling. Often associated with sense of guilt, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, fatigue, loosing interest in daily activities and joys and several other symptoms shown on this slide. We may all think well, I have that and that. The difference is a depressed person has all of that at a severe degree and something that does not go away by talking about it to people who are close to you. It may require medical attention with need for short term or long term medication or therapy of some kind."
You may not know whether you are clinically depressed unless you consult an expert. ""This is something you always can talk to your primary care doctor about if you are worried about having some symptoms," Artang said. "Besides there are online recourses available with questionnaires that if you answer them correctly will give a score and probability of whether you may be having mild or more than mild depression. That is of course just a screening test. You should then talk to your doctor about the result of the test and have it verified by a professional."
There are other conditions that can cause depression. "That's why its important to have a medical professional go over all of that and rule out conditions such as thyroid disease, Addison's disease, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, and chronic pain," Artang said.
Can't Find Something?