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Depression during Childhood Associated with Cardiac Risk in Teens: Study

Depression during Childhood Associated with Cardiac Risk in Teens: Study

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First Posted: Mar 16, 2013 05:45 AM EDT
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Are you depressed? (Photo : Reuters)

One of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S. is depression. It is not just limited to adults but also affects children and teenagers.

According to a latest finding, teens who were depressed as children are more likely to be obese, smoke cigarettes and get trapped in a very sedentary life, even if they are out of the clutches of depression.

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The study was conducted by researchers at the Washington University Of School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pittsburgh. According to this study, depression in children enhances the risk of heart diseases in later life, as stated by a news release.

Previous studies have shown how adolescents with cardiac risk factors are more likely to develop heart diseases as adults.

"Active smokers as adolescents are twice as likely to die by the age of 55 than nonsmokers, and we see similar risks with obesity, so finding this link between childhood depression and these risk factors suggests that we need to very closely monitor young people who have been depressed," first author Robert M. Carney, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University, said in a press statement.

Depression in adults is linked to heart attacks and other cardiac problems. But it is not clear at what stage of life these risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, associate with depression, thereby increasing the risk of heart problems.

For this study, the researchers evaluated data of children who were a part of the study genetics of depression conducted in 2004. The children at that time were 9 years old and  201 children were surveyed on their history of clinical depression, along with 195 healthy siblings who never reported depression. They also included 161 unrelated children who had no history of depression.

These kids were then evaluated in 2011 at the age of 16, where the researchers focused on their smoking rate, obesity and physical activity.

They noticed that 22 percent of the kids who were depressed at the age of 9 were obese at the age of 16. Seventeen percent of their siblings were obese and among the unrelated kids, only 11 percent were obese.  A third of the kids who were depressed had taken up daily smoking when compared to 13 percent of the healthy siblings, and 2.5 percent of unrelated kids. The depressed children led a sedentary life when compared to their active siblings.

A history of depression in childhood affects the present cardiac risk factors during adolescence.

The paper was presented March 15 at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Miami, Fla.

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