The Impact of the Mind on the Body

Science continues to find more evidence of the connection between the mind and the body.  Mental health has an enormous impact upon one’s physical health such that you cannot have one without the other.  Though society continues to be more comfortable  treating mental health issues with the seriousness they deserve, many continue to feel that they should be “strong enough” to cope with mental health issues without seeking treatment.

The following article from CNN.com presents the findings of a study in which depression was found to be correlated with heart disease in young women and solidifies the importance of caring for one’s mental health in the same way one would be concerned about their physical health:

Young women are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or die of heart disease if they suffer from depression, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 3,237 patients with suspected or established heart disease who were undergoing coronary angiography – a medical procedure used to diagnose narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. On the same day of the procedure, the patients answered nine questions assessing their state of mind.

If the patient was experiencing moderate to severe depression, and was under 55 years old, researchers found she had double the chance of experiencing a heart attack in the next few years. Depressed women under 55 were also twice as likely to have heart disease or to die from any cause during that time period than those who were not depressed. Men and those women older than 55 with depression did not show the same increased risk.

Depression is as powerful a risk factor for heart disease as diabetes and smoking, study author Dr. Amit Shah, a cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, concluded.

Shah believes there’s a biological reason as to why depression harms young females’ hearts in particular. Mechanisms underlying the association of depression and heart disease could be inflammation or hormonal regulation, the study author wrote. However, the exact reasons for the link are still unclear.

“When people get depressed, they stop taking care of themselves. And when they stop taking care of themselves, they get sick,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, who was not involved the study.

Dr. Jared Maloff

(310) 712-5480

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