Depression is already known to be a probable cause for other health ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, even cancer, but now it may also be linked for an increased risk of stroke.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham
and Women's Hospital discovered that individuals who suffer from depression have a significantly increased risk of a stroke by as much as 45%. And the risk of dying from that stroke increases by 55%.
In the study, Harvard School of Public Health researcher/author An Pan and his colleagues found that depression contributed to the increased risk of stroke; and dying from it almost as much as smoking and obesity.
A possible connection may be due to hormones in the nervous system which are affected by depression and can increase the risk of stroke. Another factor is inflammation which is common to both depression and stroke. Lifestyle is also a contributing-factor such as smoking, an healthy diet, and being overweight.
In addition, Pan says the treatment for depression might be another cause for the increased risk of stroke. Antidepressant medications may increase the risk of stroke in a number of ways. The body's chemical pathways can be affected, causing side effects such as weight gain. This results in the increased risk of stroke. Pan emphasizes that in spite of these findings, there's still a lot of information we don’t know so we don't want to send the wrong message that patients should stop taking their anti-depressant medication(s).
Results of the study suggest to doctors that when screening for stroke, they should not only consider the typical risks(i.e. heart disease, and diabetes), but they should also ask about the patient's mental state. "We think that in the future, depression should be considered as a risk factor for stroke," says Pan. "We still need more evidence to see whether such screening is beneficial for patients, but our study provides convincing evidence to support more research."