Depression May Raise Risk of Early Death in Women

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More scientific evidence has come to light revealing the catastrophic effects of depression on humans. According to a new study from the University of Ottawa, depression is strongly associated with a higher risk of premature death in both men and women.

The study is based on data from the 60-year Stirling County Study, which has accumulated mental health data on 3,410 adults from a region in Atlantic Canada. A team of international experts analysed the collated data during three periods – 1952-1967, 1968-1990 and 1991-2011, and subsequently linked the data to the number of deaths in the Canadian Mortality Database.

The changing roles of women in the society and multiple responsibilities they are carrying on their shoulder lead to mental pressure in women which in recent years has dramatically increased their risk of dying prematurely, the study has found.

Dr Ian Colman, Canada Research Chair in the School of Epidemiology, University of Ottawa, Ontario said: “During the last 20 years of the study, in which women’s risk of death increased significantly, roles have changed dramatically both at home and in the workplace, and many women shoulder multiple responsibilities and expectations.”

After the analysis of the data, the researchers found that depression was associated with early death among men in all decades of the study, while the depression-induced premature deaths in women emerged in the beginning of the 1990s.

The researchers observed that deaths with links to depression were once limited to men, but now affects the fairer sex as well. They noticed a 50 percent spike in the risk of death for depressed women between 1992 and 2011.

“The lifespan for young adults with depression at age 25 was markedly shorter over the 60-year period, ranging from 10 to 12 fewer years of life in the first group, 4 to 7 years in the second group and 7 to 18 fewer years of life in the 1992 group,” Dr. Colman elaborated.

“Most disturbing is the 50% increase in the risk of death for women with depression between 1992 and 2011,” Colman said.

Since the risk of early death with links to depression appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode, the authors speculate that this risk could be slashed by proper treatment of depression with optimal outcome. The authors propose that family doctors should monitor their patients for mood disturbances, especially if they are suffering repeated episodes of depression, so that they may get timely treatment.

The study was published in Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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