Depression, loneliness linked to physical ills

CHICAGO: Depression, severe mental illness and loneliness are linked to illnesses such as heart disease and dementia, according to several studies published on Monday.

The exact connections between a dysfunctional mind and a malfunctioning body remains an ongoing question, but at least one of three sets of researchers writing in the Archives of General Psychiatry said several factors may be at work.

Jesse Stewart, formerly of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, found a correlation between depression and hardening of the arteries in his three-year study of 324 men and women who averaged 60 years old.

The arteries of those who were most depressed had narrowed twice as much as those who were least depressed, the study found. Hardening of the arteries can be a precursor to a heart attack or stroke and may occur because of a malfunctioning nervous system in depressed people.

Depression may also upset the body’s regulation of glands that release chemicals governing energy level and growth, and alter the functioning of cells responsible for blood clotting.

Hardening of the arteries leads to an overreaction of the immune system and the resulting inflammation is known to release chemicals that can have effects on behaviour.

In the same journal, a British study of 46,136 severely mentally ill people found those who were younger than 50 were more than three times as likely to die from coronary heart disease and stroke than people not suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness more than doubled the risk of dying from heart disease for people up to age 75.

Source: The Times Of India

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