TAMPA, Fla. Children with depression are more likely to be obese, smoke and be inactive, and can show the effects of heart disease as early as their teen years, according to a newly published study by University of South Florida Associate Professor of Psychology Jonathan Rottenberg.
The research, by Rottenberg and his colleagues at Washington University and the University of Pittsburgh, suggests that depression may increase the risk of heart problems later in life.
The researchers also observed higher rates of heart disease in the parents of adolescents that had been depressed as children.
"Given that the parents in this sample were relatively young, we were quite surprised to find that the parents of the affected adolescents were reporting a history of heart attacks and other serious events," Rottenberg explained.
Cardiologists and mental health professionals have long known a link exists between depression and heart disease. Depressed adults are more likely to suffer a heart attack, and if they do have a heart attack, it's more likely to be fatal.
However it was unclear when the association between clinical depression and cardiac risk develops, or how early in life the association can be detected.
These findings suggest improved prevention and treatment of childhood depression could reduce adult cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women - accounting for one in every four deaths in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rottenberg's research is published online in Psychosomatic Medicine and will be included in the medical journal's February 2014 issue.
During the study, Rottenberg and his colleagues followed up on Hungarian children who had participated in a 2004 study of the genetics of depression.
The researchers compared heart disease risk factors - such
|Contact: Adam Freeman|
University of South Florida (USF Health)