Many factors that put individuals at risk for stroke have been identified, including physical inactivity, high cholesterol, obesity, use of alcohol or cigarettes, diabetes and high blood pressure. For the first time, researchers have identified a psychological factor that also affects stroke risk — depression. A study published in the July/August issue of Psychosomatic Medicine reports that increasingly, levels of depression are associated with increasing levels of risk for later stroke.
The brain’s emotional mechanism is not completely understood, but research shows that the relationship between food and mood makes up one of the brain-body links. Mood seems to be influenced by the neurotransmitter serotonin, the lack of which makes people feel depressed. Depressed people often crave carbohydrate foods foods.
Depression is a widespread disease in our society today. Epidemiologists believe that between 8% and 19% of the general population suffers from the disorder.
Depression is an illness that affects many older people. Depression in older people is often triggered by losses that accompany aging, such as loss of a job, good health, and the loss of a spouse or any other significant person or relationship. In some cases, however, it occurs “out of the blue,” for no obvious reason.
Medical research linking these two topics clearly depicts a bi-directional path of symptom development and disease progression. For instance, previous research has shown that depression is a common problem in patients with coronary heart disease.