Teens who suffer from bipolar disorder or depression have a high risk of heart disease, The American Heart Association (AHA) says. It also said adolescents should be screened for the condition. 
The AHA made the announcement a couple months ago. The organization said that bipolar disorder and depression often lead to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise, both of which can lead to heart disease. But being diagnosed with either psychiatric disorder alone can raise the risks, regardless of lifestyle habits.
The group said it is issuing new guidelines saying doctors need to closely monitor young patients with these mood disorders.
“These disorders indicate an increased risk of heart disease that requires increased vigilance and action at the earliest possible stage,” said Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, a child-adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto in Canada.
“Youth with mood disorders are not yet widely recognized as a group at increased risk for excessive and early heart disease. We hope these guidelines will spur action from patients, families and healthcare providers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among these youth,” added Goldstein, who led the team writing the new guidelines.
The AHA reviewed several studies on depression, heart disease, and adolescents. In the U.S., major depression and bipolar disorder are relatively common conditions that affect roughly 10% of American teens. Besides heart disease, the review also found that teens who have either of these conditions are also at greater risk for high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and damaged arteries. 
The researchers wrote that inflammation “could underlie some of the association with depression.” Inappropriately heightened immune system activity has been linked to heart disease and cancer, as well as depression, but scientists are unsure whether depression causes inflammation or the other way around.
Most of the teens involved in the studies reviewed by the scientists were not on any psychiatric medication at the time of the research. Such drugs can cause weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and increased blood sugar. The medications themselves can also cause inflammation.
The National Institute of Mental Health said in 2013 that about 2.6 million American teenagers aged 12-17 had a major depressive episode in the past year. The results of a study released that same year estimated that roughly 2.5 percent of teens aged 13-18 in the U.S. have met the criteria for bipolar disorder in their lifetime. 
 NBC News
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.