Washington DC: Depression and chronic diseases share a similar genetic or biological pathway. A recent study suggests that women who experience symptoms of depression are at risk of developing multiple chronic diseases.
The findings suggest that women who experienced symptoms of depression, even without a clinical diagnosis, were at risk of developing multiple chronic diseases.
"These days, many people suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. We looked at how women progress in the development of these chronic diseases before and after the onset of depressive symptoms," said Xiaolin Xu, one of the lead researchers.
As part of the study, researchers followed middle-aged women with no previous diagnosis of depression or chronic illness over 20 years.
The study found 43.2 per cent of women experienced elevated symptoms of depression and just under half the cohort reported they were diagnosed or taking treatment for depression.
The findings were published in the Journal of American Psychological Association Health Psychology.
Women from the depressed group were 1.8 times more likely to have multiple chronic health conditions before they first experienced depressive symptoms.
"Experiencing depressive symptoms appeared to amplify the risk of chronic illness," Xu said.
According to the findings, after women started experiencing these symptoms, they were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions compared to women without depressive symptoms.
The research suggests depression and chronic diseases share a similar genetic or biological pathway.
Women with both conditions were more likely to come from low-income households, be overweight and inactive, smoke tobacco and drink alcohol.
The researchers suggested that maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and reducing harmful behaviours could help prevent and slow the progression of multiple chronic diseases.