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Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.
Essays and Blogs Concerning Mental and Emotional Health

Heart Attacks and Young Women == Depression

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 27th 2006

Researchers at Emory University's Medical School have recently reported findings from a study examining depression risk in heart patients who recently had a heart attack. Heart attacks are significant, life changing events, to say the least. Having a heart attack means having a brush with your own mortality, and being on guard that you have heart disease and are at risk for future heart attacks, any one of which might be the end of you. In light of such risk is understandable and even predicatable that heart attack patients would become depressed at a disproportionate rate. This latest research refines the understanding of depression risk in the wake of heart attack by showing that it is young women (under 60) who are at greatest risk for depression.

"We found that the prevalence of depression was 40 percent in women age 60 or younger, 21 percent in women older than 60, 22 percent in men 60 or younger and 15 percent in men older than 60", said researcher and study author Dr. Susmita Mallik.

The suggestion here is that psychological/emotional and not purely physical causes underlie this disproportionate finding. Any physical traumas associated with heart attack should affect both sexes and all ages relatively equally when you examined them across large enough groups, you would think. However, this is clearly not happening. Something about being female and relatively young (young enough to be still involved in the day to day routines of caring for a family?) seems to be at work. As always, more research is needed to clear up the mystery.

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Presently, he is an Oakland Psychologist (Lic#PSY25695) in private practice offering evidence-based acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and addressing a range of life problems. Contact Dr. Dombeck by calling 510-900-5123, send Dr. Dombeck email or visit Dr. Dombeck's practice website for more information.

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