October 29, 2017
Early death could be more common for those who suffer from depression.
In a study observing men and women across six decades, researchers found distinct associations between depression and risk for premature death.
Looking at data of 3,410 men and women, depressed men were more at risk for premature death for every decade observed, while the risk in depressed women appeared more so in the 1990s. Researchers studied data from 1952 to 1967, 1968 to 1990, and 1991 to 2011. Additionally, the risk was often highest following a depressive episode.
“For some individuals, depression can be a very serious condition,” said lead study author Stephen Gilman to Reuters. Gilman works for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“Given our finding that individuals whose depression was present at multiple time points in our study were at highest risk, it is very important to seek treatment for depression and to be vigilant about recurrences.”
Researchers were also able to find a link between depression and premature death even after accounting for deaths caused by obesity, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits that can form as a result of depression.
Study participants were on average 50 years old when the study began in 1952. In the first wave of research, life expectancy with depression was 10 and 12 years shorter for women and men, respectively. Initially, men studied were almost three times as likely to die early. By the last round of research, the risk had lowered to 52 percent.
The decreased risk could also reflect the progress of how mental health is discussed in public, furthering pointing to the benefits of treatment.
Look through the full study at CMAJ.