Researchers in Norway have highlighted the importance of understanding and controlling the symptoms of depression in order to reduce risk of heart failure.
Ms Lise Tuset Gustad, an intensive care nurse and author of the study, said: 'Depressive symptoms increase the chance of developing heart failure and the more severe the symptoms are, the greater the risk.'
People with mild symptoms of depression have a 5% increased risk of developing heart failure, whilst those with moderate or severe symptoms upped their risk by 40%.
Over 60,000 Norwegian residents took part in the study to investigate the risks associated with depression. Ms Gustad said: “Depression is disabling. It blocks people’s ability to take their medications as prescribed, stop smoking, improve their diet or exercise more."
How to spot signs of depression:
“People who have lost interest in things they used to enjoy, such as reading or watching a television series, may have the early signs of depression. It’s a good idea to see your doctor in these early stages for some advice on how to reduce your depression levels,” explained Ms Gustad.
What are the symptoms and can it be treated?
“There is effective treatment for depression, particularly if people get help early. The early symptoms of depression include a loss of interest and loss of pleasure in things that have normally been interesting or given pleasure. If you feel like that, speak to your friends and if it lasts for a month see your doctor or nurse. Depression can be treated easily in the early stages and many people don’t need medication. Talking to a professional may be all you need,” advises Ms Gustad.
What are the risks of depression?
“Depression triggers stress hormones. If you’re stressed you feel your pulse going up and your breath speeding up, which is the result of hormones being released. Those stress hormones also induce inflammation and atherosclerosis, which may accelerate heart diseases. Another mechanism could also be because depressed people find it more difficult to follow advice about how to take medications and improve their lifestyle,” said Ms Gustad.