A recent long-term and large study revealed that women and men alike have a higher mortality risk if they have suffered a minimum of one massive depression episodes. Additionally, the risks have gradually increased for females over the years.
Defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a major episode of depression happens when at least five or more of the following signs arise and are present for a time of a minimum of two weeks: feeling depressed, loss of feeling content over activities that normally brought pleasure, abnormal weight gain or loss, oversleeping or sleepless nights, abnormal physical agitation, fatigue, slowness, feeling worthless or guilty, having no focus, and continual thoughts of death.
The recent study team reviewed data from over 3,400 adults from Atlantic Canada, who participated in the Stirling County Study.
The study was conducted over a 60-year period, looking at data from individuals enrolled in three specific time periods: 1952–1967 (with just over 1,000 individuals); 1968–1990 (with just over 1,200 individuals); and 1991–2011 (with just over 1,400 individuals). The individuals were 49 years at the time of enrollment. Information collected was linked to death records stemming from the Canadian Mortality Database.
A significant link between a depression diagnosis and enhanced risk around mortality was seen for males across all time period platforms. When it came to females, the connection between depressive episodes and death risks only saw an increase from the 1990s and after. In fact, there was a 50% increase around risk of death for females who have had depressive episodes between the years of 1992 t0 2011. This could be linked with a rise in responsibilities that women have, and how a female’s role has changed over these years; which might have caused this increase.
Additionally, Medical News Today revealed that the study team relayed that the risk of death is highly linked to a followed episode of depression, but it can be counteracted if the person’s mental health is improved.
Factors that influence depression like alcohol abuse, sedentarism, smoking, and poor diet choses – which have been linked to heart issues – did not seem to be connected to the increased mortality risk observed by the study team.
Limitations of the study were noted by the team, where long intervals between participant interviews was a major concern. Still, the researchers hope that healthcare providers keep their patients’ mental health on top of mind and monitor any episodes of depression they see; intervening when appropriate.