We’ve all known that depression can be a debilitating and lifelong affliction. But the consequences of having depression have now been increasingly shown to affect other aspects of the lives of those who live with it to a staggering new level. Past studies have associated mental health disorders with increased risk of cardiovascular problems and a higher risk of coronary artery disease.
So why would an illness like depression cause such an increase in cardiovascular disease? The research team laid out a number of reasons they believed placed these individuals at higher risk. Dr. Goldie noted that people with mental illness often adopt behaviors that increase their risk of such problems, including a poor diet, smoking, drinking alcohol and lack of exercise. As an example, she cited the fact that only 20% of Canadians are smokers, but 40-90% of the population who have a diagnosed mental health disorder smoke tobacco. This is an enormous disparity. Dr. Goldie further noted that psychiatric medications account for much of the increased cardiovascular risk among patients with mental illness. The drugs taken by these patients are often associated with weight gain, and are known to interfere with the body’s breakdown of fats and sugars. This could lead to obesity, high cholesterol and/or diabetes in these patients.