depressionDepression is a serious illness that can, in itself, trigger a whole host of health problems. The health issue is also strongly connected to stress – a primary factor in the development of virtually all ail and illness. In one study published in the journal Stroke, women who suffer from depression are at a greater risk of having a stroke.

Depression affects the brain and the entire body, so early diagnosis and treatment is critical. It is estimated that 1 in 10 adults in America suffer from depression, but judging by the current economic status and the American lifestyle (and common sense), that number is likely considerably higher. Some signs of depression include feeling hopeless, feeling worthless, feeling tired, feeling sad or empty, having a hard time sleeping, overeating or not eating, thoughts of suicide and overall body aches and pains.

More than 80,000 women aged 54 to 79, who had no previous stroke history, were followed from 2000 to 2006. When these women were assessed for depression it was found that 22% were depressed or had a history of depression when the study started. Over 1000 women had a stroke at some point during a six-year period following the study.

What the researchers found was that women with a history of depression were more likely than non-depressed women to experience a stroke over 6 years of follow up – 29% more likely. But that isn’t all.

There are a great deal of women who suffer from depression that take antidepressants. According to researchers, women who took prescription antidepressants were at a 39% increased chance of having a stroke. This may be due to the medication or to the severity of their depression problem.

Other Factors

Women who are depressed are more likely to be unmarried, less physically active, and smoke compared to women who are not depressed. In addition, depressed women may have a higher body mass index and other preexisting conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure – all contributing to stroke risk.

“…depression could be a marker for vascular disease,” study author An Pan, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston said. “Depression is also associated with obesity, diabetes and hypertension, and people with depression are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive…”

Although the research simply draws a connection, it seems that staying optimistic and being as happy as you can be can help reduce your risk of having a stroke.

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