A new study that will appear in the November 20 issue of Circulation: Heart Failure has found that patients suffering from heart failure who control their symptoms of depression can help to improve their overall health.
The study was conducted by psychiatrists and cardiologists at the UC Davis and Duke University schools of medicine in an effort to see if depression control helps heart patients in getting better. The basic purpose was for researchers to see if a patient’s mental health contributed to their physical health. Since it is common for patients suffering from potentially fatal health concerns to become depressed, many studies have been conducted in an effort to decide just how big a role the depression plays in the patient’s recovery.
“The improved endurance measurements were especially striking,” said study lead author Glen Xiong, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC Davis. “I think clinicians will be more motivated to both screen and treat depressive symptoms in people with heart failure because of the significant functional improvements.”
The researchers in this study believe that these results could help discover how the mind and body are connected in terms of helping heart patients keep their condition under control. They are hoping that the results of this study lead to more studies in the same genre.
“Our new study is just the tip of the iceberg, since the relationship between the body and mind is extremely complex,” said Wei Jiang, senior author of the study and director of the Neuropsychocardiology Laboratory at Duke University Medical Center. “Researchers and practitioners increasingly recognize that the mind and the body have powerful connections, which is promising since they have been segregated for years. This kind of interdisciplinary research can help find answers to how physical health affects mental health, and vice versa, and inform the development of clinical practices that recognize this approach.”
Depression is often treated with antidepressant medications like Paxil and Effexor. Both Paxil and Effexor have been linked to serious side effects, including violent thoughts and behavior and birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the drugs while pregnant. Other birth defects linked to Paxil and Effexor include PPHN, oral clefts, cleft palate, neural tube defects and heart, lung and brain defects.