The coronavirus pandemic has definitely laid bare the casualty with which we have been treating our mental health till now. Earlier this year, a study had posited, "During the initial stages of COVID-19 in India, almost one-third of respondents had a significant psychological impact." Actor Sushant Singh Rajput's shocking death to suicide, just a few days after his ex-manager's suicide, also points at the mental health crisis that we face right now.
Unfortunately, mental health is often put on the back burner while even the slightest of physical ailments are given due attention despite glaring proof of the kind of damage that it can do to an individual when compromised. However, if mental health concerns in themselves haven't been alarming enough for us all, their connection with our heart health as posited by a recent study is sure to change that.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry, this study connects depression to heart health and states that people suffering from depression could have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and even death. Conducted by the research team from Simon Fraser University in Canada, the global study tracked down 145,862 middle-aged participants from 21 countries to study the correlation between depression and heart health.
The study reads, "Cardiovascular events and death increased by 20% in people with four or more depressive symptoms compared with people without. Adults with depressive symptoms experience poor physical health outcomes and increased risk of mortality across the world and in different settings, especially in urban areas." It further adds, "The relative risk increased in countries at all economic levels but was more than twice as high in urban than rural areas."
The data from the study suggests that depressive symptoms and mental ailments should be considered as important as traditional risk factors when it comes to heart health such as smoking, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. The study is timely given the adverse effect that the current pandemic has been having on the mental health of people across the world.
It was only recently that a study published in The Lancet linked high levels of the stress hormone cortisol to more severe COVID-19 infection. Clearly, mental health is not as secondary as it has hitherto been treated and perhaps would be taken more seriously now that its physical impact is being thoroughly explored.
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