BBC News (8/1, Selvadurai) reports, “People with mild mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression, are more likely to die early,” according to a study published online July 31 in the BMJ. For the study, researchers “looked at data over 10 years and matched it to information on death certificates.” They found that “low level distress raised the risk by 16%, once lifestyle factors such as drinking and smoking were taken into account,” and that “more serious problems increased it by 67%.”
The UK’s Telegraph (8/1, Adams) reports that people with subclinical anxiety or depression may also be “at a 29 per cent increased risk of dying from ‘external causes’ like road accidents and suicide, although these only accounted for a tiny proportion of deaths.” Previously, “it had been thought that depressed or anxious people were more likely to die early because they failed to take good care of themselves — perhaps smoking and drinking more, eating worse and doing less exercise.” However, according to the study’s lead author, stress may alter “the physiology of the body to make it intrinsically less healthy,” somehow making it more susceptible to stroke and heart attacks.
“Professor Glyn Lewis, of the University of Bristol, reviewed the findings for the journal and said they add to evidence suggesting a causal association between psychological distress and heart disease, although it is not clear how to intervene,” the UK’s Daily Mail (8/1, Watson) reports.
WebMD (8/1, Goodman) reports, “The study findings did not surprise Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta who studies the role of depression in heart disease.” Dr. Vaccarino, who was not involved in the study, stated, “Clearly there is evidence that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and total mortality as well.”
— “Mild mental illness ‘raises risk of premature death’, “Emily Selvadurai, BBC News, August 1, 2012.