Health

Study links depression to premature death

People who suffer from depression may not live as long as individuals who don't experience this mental health disorder, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers examined six decades of mental health and mortality data on 3,410 adults during three time periods: 1952 to 1967, 1968 to 1990 and 1991 to 2011.

Depression was associated with an increased risk of premature death in every decade of the study for men, and starting in the 1990s for women.

The connection between depression and a shorter lifespan appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode, leading the researchers to conclude that at least part of the risk might be reversed by effectively treating the mental illness.

"For some individuals, depression can be a very serious condition," said lead study author Stephen Gilman of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Given our finding that individuals whose depression was present at multiple time points in our study were at highest risk, it is important to seek treatment for depression and be vigilant about recurrences," he added.

Depression has long been linked to a variety of health problems, in part because it may lead to physiological changes in the body and also because it can contribute to unhealthy habits such as a poor diet, inactivity, smoking and excessive drinking.

In the current study, however, researchers found a link between depression and premature death even after accounting for obesity, smoking and drinking habits. - REUTERS

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