The depression is one of the most widespread among adult’s worldwide mental disorders, now a large study that has lasted over 60 years has confirmed that both men and women who have had at least one major depressive episode have a significantly higher mortality risk than the others.
A major depressive episode is considered when 5 or more of the following symptoms are constantly present over a 2-week period: depressed mood, loss of pleasure in normally jovial activities, abnormal weight loss or weight gain insomnia or excessive sleepiness, agitation or abnormal physical slowness, fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, lack of concentration and recurrent thoughts about death.
Previous studies have linked depression to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death, especially in women.
In this research, developed by scientists from all US institutions and Canada, including the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the School of Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, major depressive episodes are reported as a significant risk factor for early death both for men as well as women.
The scientists analyzed data from 3,410 adults in the Atlantic region of Canada enrolled in the Stirling County study, focused on gaining a better understanding of various mental illnesses. In current research, the authors were interested in seeing to what extent depression was related to an increased risk of mortality and whether this risk was different for men than for women.
They performed their study for more than 60 years, analyzing the data of participants enrolled during three different periods: 1952-1967 (1,003 participants), 1968-1990 (1,203 participants) and 1991-2011 (1,402 participants). The average age of participants at the time of enrollment was 49 years.
After examining the data, the experts noted a strong connection between a diagnosis of depression and a significantly increased risk of mortality for men in all three periods. For women, however, only a link between depression and the risk of death was observed from the 1990s onwards.
“Our results show that a depressive episode confers a high mortality risk that eventually decreases over time unless there is a recurrent depressive episode, in which case the mortality risk associated with depression remains high,” the authors write.
“The life expectancy of young adults with depression at 25 years was significantly shorter over the 60-year period, 10 to 12 years less in the first group, 4 to 7 years in the second group and 7 to 18 years less of life in the group of 1992“, explains Ian Colman, coauthor of the work.
Increased depression in women
What they found particularly troubling, however, was the pronounced increase in mortality risk for women with depression in the most recent cohort: “Most disturbing is the 50% increase in the risk of death of women with depression between 1992 and 2011, “says Colman.
In the case of women, the increased risk of mortality associated with depression could be explained by the increasing volume of responsibilities.
“Over the last 20 years of the study in which women’s risk of death has increased significantly, roles have changed dramatically both at home and at work, and many women have multiple responsibilities and expectations,” says Colman.