Depression Not Good for Your Health

The habit of smoking is often defined as the most preventable cause of death. Now, new research suggests that depression puts an individual at risk of death as much as smoking – which could open up a whole new set of problems for those who suffer from the condition.

Science Daily recently posted a release that examined a study by researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King’s College London. This study indicates that depression is as much of a risk factor for mortality as smoking.

Researchers used a unique link between a survey of more than 60,000 people and a comprehensive mortality database to find that over the four years following the survey, the mortality risk was increased to a similar extent in people who were depressed as in people who were smokers.

Dr Robert Stewart, who led the research team at the IoP, noted, “Unlike smoking, we don’t know how causal the association with depression is but it does suggest that more attention should be paid to this link because the association persisted after adjusting for many other factors.”

The study also highlighted that patients with depression face an overall increased risk of mortality. At the same time, a combination of depression and anxiety in patients actually lowers mortality compared with depression alone; suggesting that maybe a little anxiety is actually good for you.

Dr Stewart commented: “It would certainly not surprise me at all to find that doctors are less likely to investigate physical symptoms in people with depression because they think that depression is the explanation, but may be more likely to investigate if someone is anxious because they think it will reassure them. These are conjectures but they would fit with the data.”