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The Link Between Depression & Heart Disease

February 21, 2011

Overall wellness called, “good autonomic tone” – is a state in which a patient’s stress hormones are properly regulated, his heartbeat shows small variations and his blood vessels expand and contract properly in response to changes in blood flow. Increasingly, researchers are recognizing that when autonomic tone is out of whack, inflammation increases; heart function suffers. And also mood.

My mom has severe heart disease. She developed hypertension in her late thirties. She was a homemaker who raised six children from two marriages. She was not lazy, but not one to exercise in the traditional sense of the word. She was a hardworking mother and homemaker. Both her husbands smoked. She did not. All in all, she had very good habits. I noticed in her fifties the beginnings of a change in her personality. Menopause I thought was the likely cause. But, she seemed to be slipping into what I call, the zone – the restricted air space of depression. She did not go out except to do errands and occasionally out to eat with her husband. She had very few close friends. She got agitated very easily. She was on some sort of tranquilizer for that plus something for her hypertension. She was a very exacting person who kept tight control of her household. Things needed to be organized, tidy, and this was a telling sign. After her husband passed away (he was 58 and she was 62), she exhibited all the typical signs of mourning. She finally moved back to be close to me and my brother. Her life was one that I could not relate to entirely; her emotional state one I could not penetrate. Thinking back now I believe the caretaking of her husband for two years had to have stressed her heart something terrible. The correlating heartbreak resulted in her depression becoming more constant. Her battle with congestive heart condition and depression progressed and is present today in her 80s.

Nearly 25 years of research has drawn a clear connecting line between depression and heart disease, making the link Exhibit A in the modern compendium of mind-body connections.

The article in today’s LA Times is worth reading as the findings make us aware of the link between heart disease and depression.

Depressive behavior makes heart disease more likely; and once heart disease sets in, depression continues to cast a long shadow, making a patient less hopeful and engaged in their recovery, and thus – more likely to succumb.

I highly recommend reading this article, click here