Depression and Heart Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture

Depression and Heart

Depression and heart disease, two of the most common health problems in the United States, are often connected.

Heart disease can contribute to the development of depression. About one in three people who survive a heart attack experiences major depression. That compares to about one in 20 American adults who experiences major depression in a given year.

Studies also indicate that depression is an important risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in Americans. The February issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource covers some physical changes from depression that can affect your overall health, including development of heart disease.

  • Depression can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as poor diet or lack of exercise.

  • Depression may cause abnormal heart rhythms, increased blood pressure and faster blood clotting.


  • Depression can elevate cholesterol levels.

  • Depression may result in chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

  • Depression can elevate insulin levels.

A recent study puts perspective on the connection. Postmenopausal women with symptoms of depression and no history of heart disease had a 50 percent greater risk of developing or dying of heart disease than did women without depression.

If you have heart disease, depression or suspect depression, discuss the connections with your doctor. The complex interplay between the two may allow for one or both to go undiagnosed. Given the impact depression can have on the development of heart disease or recovery from a heart attack or surgery, prompt evaluation and treatment are important.