The Unholy Triad: Stress, Depression and Heart Disease

The Unholy Triad: Stress, Depression and Heart Disease

Loyola University Medical Center reports that there is a strong relationship between heart disease and depression. While having heart disease can definitely make one depressed, researchers say that depression itself, can lead to heart disease.

Forty to 60% of patients with heart disease suffer from some form of clinical depression and 30 to 50% of those that suffer depression have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The two clearly go hand in hand.

When the blood of 48 severely depressed patients was tested it contained an elevated amount of a biomarker called interleukin-6, closely associated with heart disease when compared to the levels in healthy subjects.

Stress Attack

When the human body is exposed to stress, good or bad, something happens internally. For a little while, stress is o.k. until it becomes constant. This is especially true for people with compromised immune systems. When the body senses stress it attempts to maintain homeostasis in the same way it would if a disease or infection was present. The body does not know the difference between stress and disease, both are seen as an invasion. Proteins known as cytokines are released when stress invades, including interleukin-6 which was found in severely depressed patients. At first, the proteins help against the stress but over time their inflammatory nature causes hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular disease. So, depression triggers the inflammation which causes heart disease, which in turn causes depression. This is a very vicious stress-induced cycle.

The Unholy Triad: Stress, Depression and Heart DiseaseStress Busters

A combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise and time spent outdoors in the sunshine are great stress busters. Getting plenty of sleep and incorporating activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and Yoga into your weekly routine will keep stress hormones low, and help enhance overall feelings of well being. In our rush-rush culture, it is sometimes hard to find quiet moments in each day but doing so will keep stress levels low and heart disease at bay.

– The Alternative Daily

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