Depression, anxiety, and mental health in general are starting to be taken more and more seriously in the health industry as well as in the general population. People are starting to realize that mental health is a big and important part of overall health. Attitudes are starting to shift away from the ‘buck up and deal with it’ mentality when it comes to mental health. Issues like depression and anxiety are more increasingly being recognized as the sometimes serious conditions needing medical attention that they are.
Yes, we are getting wiser about what’s going on in our heads, and this is fantastic. But do you know just how much depression and anxiety can affect your physical health? Are you aware of how serious an impact your brain can have on your body?
Cardiovascular issues have repeatedly been linked to anxiety and depression in various types of studies. The underlying mechanism behind this phenomenon is complex and continues to be understood, but the end message is pretty clear: there is a strong connection between what’s going in your head and what’s going in your body. If it feels emotionally like your heart is broken, there is a chance that its physical counterpart is in trouble too.
In a meta-analysis of 11 studies examining whether depression predicts coronary heart disease, it was reported that depression predicted cardiovascular disease in initially healthy people. Those who were clinically depressed had a higher risk (2.69 risk ratio) than those who were considered to have a depressed mood (risk ratio of 1.49). So physically healthy people with depression were at higher risk of developing heart disease and the more severe the depression the higher the risk. Anxiety seems to also be a contributor, much like depression.
In a review of literature based on a rigorous quality filter, all of the 11 prospective studies on depression and anxiety predicted coronary heart disease in healthy people, and all of the 6 studies on people with existing cardiovascular disease predicted disease progression. This further adds to the gravity of what this research suggests; not only do depression and anxiety increase the risk of developing heart disease, they also could play a part in making existing heart conditions worse.
A later study also concluded that although depression is consistently related to impaired cardiovascular health, negative emotions may play a stronger role in disease development than in progression. Meaning it could affect healthy people without a condition more than it could in those who already have an ailment. They also concluded that depression, anxiety, and anger can all influence health in unison, in interaction, or independently.
To bring the analogy of the title back into play, not only will poor mental health break your heart but, if it’s already broken, it will shatter it into a million pieces.
Now this doesn’t mean than mental health issues put you on a sure path to heart disease, and it doesn’t mean that depression and anxiety are the only factors. As mentioned above, this is a complex and ongoing area of study. But one thing is certainly clear – depression and anxiety, at the very least, contribute to the development and/or the severity of heart disease.
There is strong evidence that wellbeing is predictive of cardiovascular disease in healthy populations, affecting the neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and inflammatory systems. Positive psychology and wellbeing have been repeatedly found to be protective factors that can even undo the effects of negative emotions.
So while your brain can have a devastatingly negative effect on your body, the good news is that it can also have an incredibly positive one. This is not a one way street. The mind is incredibly powerful, and it can be your downfall or it can be your savior.
If cardiovascular health is a worry for you, caring for your overall health is a fantastic way to do something about that. With the help of ph360 and ShaeTM you can ensure that the food you eat, the exercise you do, and your environment are the absolute best for you as an individual. Mental health is an important part of this equation. Everything about you – physically, mentally and emotionally – is connected. So when you think about taking care of your health make sure you take every aspect of it into consideration.
If you are having a hard time or need someone to talk to please call:
In the US: Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
In Canada: Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention 204 784 4073
In Australia: Lifeline 13 11 14
For contact numbers internationally please visit http://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Rugulies, R. (2002). Depression as a predictor for coronary heart disease. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23, 51–61.
Hemingway, H., & Marmot, M. (1999). Psychosocial factors in the aetiology and prognosis of coronary heart disease: Systematic review of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 318, 1460–1467.
Nabi, H., Kivimaki, M., De Vogli, R., Marmot, M.G., & Singh-Manoux, A. (2008). Positive and negative affect and risk of coronary heart disease: Whitehall II prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal,337, 32–36.
Suls, J., & Bunde, J. (2005). Anger, anxiety, and depression as risk factors for cardiovascular disease: The problems and implications of overlapping affective dispositions. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 260–300.
Steptoe, A., Wardle, J., & Marmot, M. (2005). Positive affect and health-related neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and inflammatory processes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 102, 6508–6512.
JK Boehm, LD Kubzansky (2012). The heart’s content: the association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psych Bull,138, 655–691
Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A., Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M. (2000). The undoing effect of positive emotions. Motivation and Emotion,, 24, 237–258.
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