Monday, December 5, 2011

Can depression cause heart problems

According to a recent study published in Psychophysiology ( Volume 48, Issue 11, pages 1605–1610, November 2011) there seems to be  a statistically significant relationship between DSM IV Major depressive disorder and cardiovascular recovery after exercise.

There were numerous studies done to determine relationship between heart problems and depression. According to (Barth, Schumacher, & Herrmann-Lingen, 2004; Carney et al., 2008; Lavoie & Fleet, 2000; Lesperance, Frasure-Smith, Talajic, & Bourassa, 2002; Rozanski, Blumenthal, & Kaplan, 1999; Rutledge et al., 2006) Major depressive disorder is associated with heart problems. In fact, heart diseases can be caused by Major depression  as well as existing heart problems can be aggravated by major depressive disorder.

During vigorous exercises our heart rate increases exponentially. But immediately after physical exercise, heart rate becomes normal within a short period of time. But people with a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system have delayed heart rate recovery after exercise. This delayed recovery is linked to heart diseases by several studies (Cole, Blackstone, Pashkow, Snader, & Lauer, 1999; Jouven et al., 2005; Mora et al., 2003; Nishime, Cole, Blackstone, Pashkow, & Lauer, 2000).

According to the above “The effect of major depression on post exercise cardiovascular recovery” study researcher’s found a statistically significant delay in recovery of heart rate following exercise by way of stress testing (treadmill). Therefore, there can be a autonomic nervous system dysfunction in Major depressive disorder. 

In addition to the biological vulnerability for heart disease, people with major depression have many life style issues that is detrimental to the heart such as lack of exercises and bad food habits.

Depression increases risk of heart disease

Most people with depression do not care about the healthy food choices, because of lack of energy and motivation. In addition, they do not do regular exercises again due to lack of energy. In addition, depressed people with diabetes or ischemic heart disease tend to miss their pills.
Diabetic patients with depression tend to forget monitoring their health and take medications

Depressed people tend to ignore healthy food choices

Depressed people tend to do less exercise


Major depression is associated with significant heart problems. It is due to both life style issues such as lack of exercises seen in major depression as well due to biochemical and physiological abnormalities seen in depression.

Therefore, it is very important to treat depression in people with cardiovascular risk. 


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