Older women who are depressed face an increased risk of death, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
"Treatment for depression may not only enhance quality of life but also reduce mortality among women with depressive symptoms," wrote Drs. Mary Whooley and Warren Browner in the report, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
More than 7,500 women over the age of 67 were studied between 1988 and 1994 by the two doctors. Depressed elderly women "had a 47 percent increased adjusted risk of all-cause mortality, including an 80 percent increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease," as compared to women who were not depressed. "This increased risk is similar to that conferred by other cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, cigarette smoking, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), obesity, and diabetes," the authors continued.
Depressed patients are also not as likely to exercise and more likely to skip or misuse medication. In conclusion, the authors stated, "we should redouble our efforts to improve detection and treatment of depression."