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Chronic Disease and Depression

October 20, 2008   |   Alliance for Aging Research Team   |   Depression, Mental Illness

Two studies have been published recently that talk about depression—but not as a stand-alone diagnosis. They discuss both heart disease and diabetes and the high comorbidity of depression.

The American Heart Association reports that depression is 3 times more common in heart patients compared to the general population. In the Circulation report, the authors point out that only half of heart doctors say they treat depression in their patients. About a week after this report came out, another study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which found that participants in the study, who had previously been diagnosed with diabetes, had a 36-38% increased risk of (all-cause) death if the also had depression (which was assessed by both a physician diagnosis and reported antidepressant use). As you can see from these two studies, depression is still often under-diagnosed in patients with comorbid conditions. When educating patients and physicians about diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, perhaps information about depression should be included, too.

This post was written by Valerie Hagan, former Health Programs Coordinator at the Alliance.

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