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Childhood Depression Increases Cardiac Risks in Teens

Mar 21, 2013

Teens who have childhood depression are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases….

A group of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pittsburgh studied children who had history of clinical depression in 2004.

The average age of participants was 9 at the time the study was started. Researchers surveyed the group again in 2011 for rates of smoking, obesity and physical activity.

The results showed that 22% depressed kids were obese, a third became daily smokers, and they had the most sedentary lifestyle compared to other non-depressed kids. According to Dr. Robert M. Carney, "Active smokers as adolescents are twice as likely to die by the age of 55 than nonsmokers, and we see similar risks with obesity, so finding this link between childhood depression and these risk factors suggests that we need to very closely monitor young people who have been depressed."

Using statistical methods to rule out possible risk factors, they concluded that the effects of depression on increased cardiac risk was significant even after remission. "Depression seems to come first. It’s playing an important, if not a causal, role. There may be some related genetic influences that give rise to both depression and to heart disease, or at least to these types of cardiac risk behaviors," said Carney.

Carney RM, Rottenberg J, Freedland KE, Kovacs M. Childhood major depressive disorder and cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, March 15, 2013.