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Perinatal Depression Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Diseases

perinatal depression and heart disease

Perinatal depression is depression that affects women during pregnancy or after delivery. That's sad enough. It gets worse, though. A new study has found that women who experience perinatal depression have a 36% higher risk of cardiovascular disease than other women.

This is quite concerning because about 1 out of every 5 mothers will experience perinatal depression.

And heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Plus, perinatal depression is linked with a higher risk of suicidal behavior and premature death.

So, yes, it's quite worrying.

The researchers studied around 600,000 women. Some of them had been diagnosed with perinatal depression as of 2001; others had not experienced it although they'd given birth.

Among the women who have had perinatal depression, 6.4% developed cardiovascular disease over a 20-year period, compared to 3.7% of women who never experienced perinatal depression.

To be specific, there was a 50% higher risk of high blood pressure, 37% higher risk of ischemic heart disease, and 36% higher risk of heart failure.

These are the heart conditions with the strongest links to perinatal depression, according to the study.

More on the research here.

Does perinatal depression cause heart disease?

Well, it's not clear why or how the link exists at all.

“There could also be other factors involved, as is the case for the link between other forms of depression and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Emma Bränn, the senior author. “These include alterations in the immune system, oxidative stress and lifestyle changes implicated in major depression.”

Whether it's perinatal depression that makes a person prone to heart disease, or there are factors that predispose certain people to both conditions, we'll need more research to find out.

At any rate, there seems to be genetics at play. Because when the researchers studied the participants’ sisters, their risk of developing cardiovascular disease was still quite high. 20% higher than other regular people.

Whatever the link is, one thing is clear: this new revelation can help us better identify those at risk of heart disease so they can take steps to address it quickly. Of course, early intervention is the best way to go.

For starters, you can switch to a healthier lifestyle.

Also, if you're pregnant or a nursing mom and experiencing some signs of depression, you want to address this as quickly as possible.

Please do not take perinatal depression — or postpartum depression — lightly. Protect your well-being and that of your child at all costs.

Seek help now.

At Hope Mental Health, you can get the help you need.

Contact us today.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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