Depression is a serious enough condition on its own, but a recent study suggests that it might also increase the risk of other diseases for women.
Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) analyzed over 20 years of data and found that depression symptoms increased the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Dr. Xiaolin Xu at the UQ School of Public Health noted that signs of depression are a serious cause for concern.
“After women started experiencing these symptoms, they were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions compared to women without depressive symptoms,” he said.
Treating depression to prevent chronic disease
The researchers came to their findings after studying results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, which tracked health outcomes for middle-aged women in the country for over two decades.
Dr. Xu attributed some of the outcomes to increased levels of inflammation in the bodies of women who experienced depression symptoms. He says that health care professionals need to provide patients who report symptoms of depression with proper support to prevent other health issues.
“Healthcare professionals need to know that clinical and sub-clinical depression (elevated depressive symptoms) can be linked to other chronic physical conditions,” he said. “When treating patients for these symptoms, healthcare professionals must realise these people are at risk of developing further chronic illness.”
Xu says that maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and cutting out certain harmful behaviors are the best ways for consumers to stay healthy.
The full study has been published in the journal Health Psychology.