Tuesday, 14 November 2017 00:00

Depression Connected to Early Death Risk

Depression has always been considered an emotional issue, taking a toll on a person’s mental well-being. However, in recent years, medical professionals have begun to recognize its physiological effects on sufferers, as well.

A new Canadian study furthers this thinking, connecting depression to an overall shortened lifespan. After reviewing information on 3,410 adults dating back to 1952, the researchers found a link between depression and an increased risk of early death.

The team noticed that the risk for premature death was greatest in the years immediately following a depressive episode, which they felt demonstrated how treatment could possibly play an important life-saving role.

Published in Our Blog

An estimated 350 million people across the globe suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability. For the many people now active on social media, that brings a real possibility that at least a few of the posts each day are uploaded by someone who suffers from the disease. While many will never outwardly state what they’re feeling, the photos they upload may be a dead giveaway.

The study used artificial intelligence to sort through Instagram posts and identify depressed people based solely on the filters they used. The software had an accuracy of 70 percent. General practitioners can accurately diagnose depression at a rate of only 42 percent.

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Conventional wisdom about treating depression has long centered on identifying the neurological causes and then finding ways to address them, either through drugs, therapy, exercise or some combination thereof.

Recent research, however, suggests that the causes of depression may be rooted in something other than – or, more likely, in addition to – accepted thought: Inflammation. As one clinical psychologist explained to the Guardian newspaper of London, “I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition anymore. It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.”

This view, the newspaper adds, is “blindingly obvious” once the basis for it is fleshed out. People tend to feel lousy when they are sick, preferring to vegetate on the couch or in bed rather than to get up and move about, for most any reason. It can feel like depression, and depression can feel like sickness. So, the argument goes, “might there be a common cause that accounts for both?”

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