Depression may increase risk of stroke

The results of a twenty nine year research project investigating depression that involved hundreds of thousands of people has recently released it's findings. These findings should truly open societies eyes to the dangers of not seeking treatment for depression.When considering the effects of depression it is usually the emotional and spiritual damage which is cited. For a long time now medical practitioners have been aware of the fact that stroke victims are highly likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. Recent research in America now points to the conclusion that depression can actually trigger a stroke. Specialists believe this enhances the reasons why we need to take depression and its treatments more seriously in western society.


A 29 year survey

The new research has taken over 29 years to develop and it has involved a massive 300,000 people and 28 separate studies. Conclusive findings from the study showed that depressed patients turned out to be 45% more likely to experience any type of stroke than those who were not depressed. The results also showed that the depressed people who had experienced a stroke were 55% more likely to die from it.

Why are depressed people more likely to suffer from a stroke?

Medical experts have a few theories as to why depression should trigger this physical illness. First of all, the symptoms of depression are likely to make the human body vulnerable to physical illness. When a patient is depressed they are likely to be de-motivated and have little interest in life. Subsequently, they tend eat less healthily and refrain from an acceptable level of exercise. Also as depression is so closely linked to stress, they are also likely to indulge in addictive comfort habits such as smoking.

As depression has an effect on fundamental functioning and the need to care for oneself, depressed patients are less likely to take their medication as prescribed. Traditionally this includes blood pressure and cholesterol drugs. Both of these issues are risk factors for stroke. It is also a known fact that anti-depressants have been linked to stroke risk too.

Could there be other factors?

Jeffrey M. Lyness, MD the professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center pointed out that these findings do not necessarily mean that depression leads to a stroke. Depression and stroke are associated with other conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.  "It might be that the true 'egg' that underlies both depression and stroke for some patients are those other conditions."

One thing is certain, and that is these new findings should act as a wake up call to how we deal with depression in our health system. Too often it is not given the serious input that it deserves. The old adage of take a few tablets and you will feel OK is not good enough. Too often doctors rely too heavily on anti-depressants where the patient should be treated holistically and be offered therapy, nutritional counseling and assessment around their lifestyle.

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