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Depression May Double Stroke Risk

Stroke face droop Harvard Study Links Chronic Depression and Long Term Risk of Stroke

Baby Boomers, beware. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that chronic depression might double the risk of stroke in adults over the age of 50. Persistent depression might even increase stroke risk well after the signs and symptoms of depression disappear, particularly for women.

The study, entitled “Changes in Depressive Symptoms and Incidence of First Stroke Among Middle-Aged and Older US Adults,” looked at health information from 16,178 men and women ages 50 and older participating in the Health and Retirement Study between 1998 and 2010.

Stroke Risk Study Involves SemiAnnual Interviews

Study participants were interviewed every two years about a variety of health measures, including depressive symptoms, history of stroke, and stroke risk factors. There were 1,192 strokes among participants during the study period.

Paola Gilsanz, Sc.D. Harvard bio

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines persistent depressive disorder as being in a depressed mood which lasts for a minimum of 2 years. According to the study’s lead writer, Ms. Paola Gilsanz, Sc.D., Yerby Postdoctoral Study Fellow at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan College of Public Health, the study concludes that depression might also increase the chance of stroke over the long run.

First Time for Stroke Predictive Results

“This is the first study evaluating how changes in depressive symptoms predict changes in stroke risk,” says Gilsanz. ‎ “If replicated, these findings suggest that clinicians should seek to identify and treat depressive symptoms as close to onset as possible, before harmful effects on stroke risk start to accumulate.”

Gilanz went on to say, “What our study provides is evidence that these results take time to build up, however, we still have numerous questions to answer regarding how and why this occurs.” He added that unraveling this secret could help decrease the link between depression and stroke.

Next Steps for Researchers

The NIMH reports that about seven percent of all adults in the United States experience significant depressive disorder in almost any given year. A previous study showed that depression is related to the increased risk of hypertension, irregularities of the autonomic nervous system, and elevated inflammatory responses.

Simply because this is actually the 1st study to look at modifications in depressive symptoms in this way, Gilsanz stated that the next step is to see if these results stay accurate in numerous samples and throughout various age groups; along with looking at individuals whose symptoms went away for various reasons.

Possible Reasons for Link to Stroke Risk

She also points out that some experts argue this affiliation is actually because of subclinical vascular disease within the brain causing both melancholy and stroke. Future research to tease this out – for instance, incorporating brain imaging or any other research styles – might be able to address this issue, according to Gilsanz.

Researchers didn’t examine whether or not depressive symptoms diminished due to treatment or for other factors. However, they stated the results suggest that treatment, even if efficient for depression, might not have instant advantages for stroke risk.

Urgent Need for Depression Treatment

Experts also suggested that reduced depression may have a stronger impact on ladies than men. They also believe that a recent onset of depression didn’t appear to be related to higher stroke risk.

For those in high risk categories, this study highlights the urgent need for individuals, such as females over the age of 50, to address recurring depressive symptoms as soon as possible.


Depression May Double Stroke Risk

Dr. Scott West

About Nashville NeuroCare Therapy: In April of 2010, Dr. West brought the technology of NeuroStar TMS to Nashville, becoming the first physician in Tennessee to offer the option of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for patients whose severe depression has not responded to a course of antidepressant medication or treatment for depression. The team at Nashville NeuroCare Therapy offers the most experience in the Tennessee-area. We have treated 550+ patients across the U.S. and administered 16,000+ TMS treatments, plus we maintain some of the highest percentages of positive patient responses and remission rates in the industry.

At Nashville NeuroCare Therapy, we deliver personalized therapy, specializing in TMS Therapy and Neurofeedback. We provide safe and well-researched therapies for depression, ADHD and sleep problems—all without the need for medication.

For more information on our therapies for Depression, ADHD and Sleep Problems, please contact us at (615) 465-4875 or or [email protected] or visit our website

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APA Reference
West, W. (2016). Depression May Double Stroke Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 May 2016
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