There is a clear link between mental health and heart health when looking at research related to depression. Because depression is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting an estimated 21 million Americans each year, it is a useful proxy for thinking about how mental health problems may interact with overall cardiovascular health conditions.
The incidence of depression in people with heart disease is more than double that of the general American population.
“For people with depression, we know they have a much higher risk of heart disease than people without depression,” says Christopher Celano, director of the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Research also shows that people who Already People with heart disease also have a higher risk of developing depression than those who do not, ”he says. In fact, the prevalence of depression in people with heart disease is more than double that of the general American population (between 20 and 30 percent, compared to 7 to 8 percent). For those in that camp, the consequences are often dire. A January 2022 study found that chronic illness, such as heart disease, as well as mental illness doubled your risk of death.
As a result, cardiac psychiatrists – who focus on treating mental health problems in people with existing heart disease – suspect that head-to-heart connections are bidirectional, that poor mental health can potentially worsen heart health, and that heart health conditions worsen your mental state. Health problems. Although much research in this area focuses on depression, there is also evidence that anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even chronic stress do not affect your heart in any way. And physicians suspect that some of the key factors are probably driving the relationship between mental health and heart health on board.
How mental health conditions can increase the risk of heart disease and vice versa
Numerous studies have shown that lifestyle choices that promote health in general – say, eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Because mental health conditions can make you Little While it is possible to do all of the above, this is a major way that it can put you at great risk.
Peter A. Shapiro, MD, a cardiac psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, says, “We know that depressed or anxious people don’t do well to take care of themselves. It affects a person’s energy and executive function (aka planning and accomplishing goals and tasks.” Ability). “If, for example, they are not paying enough attention to what they are eating, getting enough rest, taking their medication, or exercising regularly, they are more likely to have a heart attack.”
The same applies when it comes to the opposite type of habit with known cardiovascular health risks, Drs. Says Celano. Statistics show that people with mental health disorders are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol दुई two practices that negatively affect your heart — which may also help explain the relationship between depression and heart health problems.
It is also possible that normal behavioral tendencies in people with heart disease may increase their risk of developing mental health conditions. “You can imagine that a person with heart disease may be less involved in physical activity,” Drs. Says Celano. Physical activity is known to have some antidepressant effects in itself, in which case a person will lose those benefits.
That effect will only be compounded by any negative psychological effects to get a heart disease diagnosis in the first place, Drs. Says Shapiro. “For some people, the stress that heart disease disrupts their normal life role or process may be enough to cause the symptoms of depression,” he says. Not to mention, the potential pain and fear of having a heart attack or spending time in hospital can all increase a person’s risk of mental illness.
Science is somewhat limited in the physical relationship between mental health and heart health, Drs. Says Celano. “Most biological links are verified at the same time, so it’s hard to figure out which direction the relationship is actually going.” (In other words, it is unclear if one causes the other, or if a biological abnormality is shown to be the result of both.)
That said, some physical pathways are probably involved in one way or another. For starters, people with depression have been shown to have high levels of interleukins (proteins produced by white blood cells) in their blood, which suggests high levels that could put them at risk for heart disease, says Dr. Celano. The reverse may also be true, as people with severe heart disease also have higher levels of inflammation, which may contribute to or worsen the symptoms of depression, he added.
People with depression, in particular, are more likely to experience endothelial dysfunction, “which means the lining of their blood vessels should not be as comfortable as it should be to allow blood to flow to the heart,” Drs. Celano. Without healthy blood flow, the heart cannot function effectively.
Add to the potential cascade of common neuroendocrine effects for psychiatric conditions, and you’ll find another interesting link between mental and heart health. “Usually, depressed or anxious people, for example, tend to experience more sympathetic nervous-system activity. [aka fight-or-flight] than parasympathetic [aka rest and digest]”These people are more likely to experience multiple spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, and have higher levels of cortisol in their body than non-depressed people, which can put a lot of extra stress on the heart over time,” says Dr. Celano.
Why maintaining good mental health and a positive attitude can help save your heart
Recent research suggests that the unique benefits of positive psychology for the heart can be linked to optimism for heart health. “It simply came to our notice then Lack Because of the depression that gives the heart protective benefits, ”says Dr. Celano. “There seems to be a beneficial effect from positive emotions that is different from the negative effect on the heart from feeling depressed.”
Some of that connection lies in the reverse behavioral effect as mentioned above: Research shows that you More If you are optimistic, you are more likely to engage in heart-healthy behavior. “In particular, optimistic people are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, be physically active and take medications,” he said. “All of these are suitable for the heart to function properly,” says Celano.
It is also possible that there is a supportive neuroendocrine link between a positive attitude and maintaining a healthy ticker. In fact, research into the positive effects has shown that it can lead to more parasympathetic (relax-and-five) activity and lower levels of cortisol, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate spike frequency.
That being said, there are significant and measurable heart-health benefits to experiencing a positive mental state – so Drs. Celano emphasizes the importance of seeking treatment for any mental health condition. And Find ways to support your mindset on a daily basis, regardless. “Whether you have depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, caring for yourself, cultivating gratitude, and doing things that seem important and meaningful can benefit not only your emotional well-being but also your heart.”