Depression and Heart Disease
You've got no interest in your sex life. Exercise is an alien concept. You're either overeating or food tastes like cardboard. To this classic list of depression symptoms, add heart disease.
William W. Eaton, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, found that study subjects who'd had at least one episode of depression were four times as likely to have a heart attack as those with no history of clinical depression. At first glance, it makes sense. When you're down, you may smoke, drink too much alcohol, overeat and skip exercise -- all heart disease risk factors. Experts now say biochemistry may also play a role. "When you're depressed your body is constantly in a fight or flight pattern," says Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., a cardiologist at Connecticuts Manchester Memorial Hospital. "Your body secretes too much of the hormone cortisol, which not only can cause irregular heart rhythms and sudden death, but creates stickier blood clotting platelets. Cortisol over-production also facilitates abdominal fat accumulation and can boost cholesterol, both of which increase heart disease risk. High levels of norepidnephrine, another blues-triggered hormone, may cause a fatal combination: arrhythmias, a rapid heart rate, and raised blood pressure.