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Depression and Heart Diseases: The Connection Between Psychological and Physical Health

Depression has been found to be one of the most commonly diagnosed and experienced mental health issues in the world. Furthermore, this condition is ranked as the fourth leading cause of disability (Raic, 2017). Depression is often characterized by negative or sad mood, worthlessness, appetite changes, lack of interest in prior enjoyable activities, and suicidality (Kazemi & Ravanbakhsh, 2017; Raic, 2017). Interestingly, depression shares a high prevalence rate (20 – 45%) in patients with heart disease (Raic, 2017). It has also been suggested that patients with depression have an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as stroke, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve diseases (Raic, 2017). What is the reason for this connection? Patients with depression tend consume more alcohol, remain physically inactive and develop obesity which increases heart disease risk. Increased activity in the nervous system can lead to cardiac problems such as arrhythmias and cardiac infarction. Higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels also run through the body which increase cardiovascular risk factors. Stress and anxiety can also cause physiological changes leading to artery blockages (Kazemi & Ravanbakhsh, 2017).

If you have depression or heart diseases, what can you do to improve your health?

1) Make sure you are screened for heart issues and depression by your doctor.

2) If you are diagnosed with depression or heart disease issues, seek out help from your physician or psychiatrist. There are medications which can help with depressive symptoms and heart diseases.

2) Find a therapist! Certain psychotherapies can help reduce depressive symptoms.

3) Get some exercise. Being physically active can help reduce depressive and heart disease symptoms.


Kazemi, T., & Ravanbakhsh, M. (2017). In celebration of World Health Day 2017: Depression and heart disease. Journal of Health Sciences and Technology, 1, 100-102. Retrieved from http://jhst.bums.ac.ir/browse.php?a_id=33&sid=1&slc_lang=en

Raic, M. (2017). Depression and heart diseases: Leading health problems. Psychiatria Danubina, 29, S770-S777. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29278623/