Healthy Tips

Heart Disease Risk Factor Is Depression

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The power of your mind over your heart.
In one of the strongest indications of the power of the mind to influence the body, a growing collection of evidence finds that people who are depressed have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease… & see

In a study of almost 3,000 men and 5,000 women, depressed men were 70 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who weren’t depressed. While depressed women were just 12 percent more likely to develop heart disease overall, those who were severely depressed were 78 percent more likely. In fact, a 1998 study found that women who are depressed have a risk of dying from heart disease equal to that of women who smoke or who have high blood pressure.

The link works the other way around, too: While about 1 in 20 American adults experience major depression in a given year, that number jumps to about one in three among those who have survived a heart attack.

The more severe the depression, the more dangerous it is to your health. But some studies suggest that even mild depression, including feelings of hopelessness experienced over many years, may damage the heart. Other studies suggest depression may affect how well heart disease medications work.

Researchers aren’t sure what the connection between depression and heart disease is, but theories abound. One is that people who are depressed tend not to take very good care of themselves. They’re more likely to eat high-fat, high-calorie “comfort” foods, less likely to exercise, and more likely to smoke. But beyond lifestyle, there is probably also a physiological link between depression and heart disease. Recent studies found that people with severe depression tended to have a deficiency of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. People who are depressed also often have chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. These keep the body primed for fight or flight, raising blood pressure and prompting the heart to beat faster, all of which put additional stress on coronary arteries and interfere with the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

A whole branch of medicine is devoted to the complex links between mental health, the nervous system, the hormone system, and the immune system. Called psychoneuroimmunology, this science is gradually sorting out how the mind-body connection affects our vulnerability to, or defense against, heart disease.

Overall, an estimated 10 percent of American adults experience some form of depression every year. Although available therapies can alleviate symptoms in more than 80 percent of people treated, less than half of those with depression get the help they need.

Quick Tips:

Get regular, moderate exercise
. A 1999 study conducted at the Duke University School of Medicine found that exercising 30 minutes a day, three days a week, was just as beneficial in treating depression as medication alone.

Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from food and fish-oil supplements).

Take B vitamins,
which are beneficial in preventing depression.

Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates. These foods help increase serotonin levels, a brain chemical that relieves a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

From : Cut Your Cholesterol

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