In a new study, researchers found that people who have symptoms of depression are at high risks of developing more than one chronic diseases.
The diseases may include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
The risks are high even there is no clinical diagnosis.
The research was led by a team from The University of Queensland.
In the study, the team examined how people develop these chronic diseases before and after the start of depressive symptoms.
They used data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, which followed healthy, middle-aged women with no previous diagnosis of depression or chronic illness over 20 years.
The researchers found that more than 40% of women experienced symptoms of depression and just under half of them reported they were diagnosed or taking treatment for depression.
The results showed that women in the depression group were 1.8 times more likely to have multiple chronic diseases before they first experienced the symptoms.
After women started experiencing these symptoms, they were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from multiple chronic diseases compared with women without depressive symptoms.
The team explains that having depressive symptoms may amplify the risk of chronic illness.
It is possible that depression and chronic diseases share a similar genetic or biological pathway.
For example, inflammation in the body has been linked to the development of both depression and chronic physical diseases.
This may help explain why chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are also commonly linked to depression.
The team hopes these findings can help healthcare professionals understand mental and physical health better.
They need to know that clinical depression and elevated depressive symptoms can be linked to other chronic health problems.
In addition, when treating patients for depressive symptoms, doctors should know that these people are at risk of developing further chronic illness.
On the other hand, people with both health conditions need to control their body weight, do regular exercise, drink less alcohol and stop smoking.
One author of the study is UQ School of Public Health Ph.D. scholar Xiaolin Xu.
The study is published in Health Psychology.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.