Depressed Women Have a Higher Risk of Stroke


A new study from Harvard researchers reveals that depression may have one more adverse effect on women: It raises the risk of stroke.  Women with a history of depression are 29% more likely to have a stroke than non-depressed women.  Strangely enough, taking anti-depressants did not lessen the risk; in fact, women who took SSRIs like Prozac or Zoloft faced a 39% higher risk.

Researchers were quick to say that they had no evidence that the anti-depressants themselves caused the increased likelihood of stroke.  They also added that women should not stop taking anti-depressants because of the findings.  Instead, use of anti-depressants indicated more severe depression, which in turn has been linked to stroke risk factors (like smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure).

The study indicates that depressed women are more likely to live in an unhealthy lifestyle, even if they are taking anti-depressants.  ”Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise,” explained Dr. Kathryn Rexrode, one of the researchers.

So the take-away from this data is not that anti-depressants are harmful, but that women who are experiencing depression need to seek help from their doctors to make sure that related conditions like hypertension and diabetes are treated.  It’s also useful for doctors to know that there are links between depression and risk of stroke, so that they can speak to depressed patients about unhealthy practices like smoking.

Because men are less likely to experience (or report) depression, researchers said that they were unsure if the findings would translate.

Related Stories:

Anti-Depressant Use on the Rise for Milder Conditions

Sexual Assault Can Damage Long-Term Mental Health

Stress in Expecting Mothers is Passed on to Babies

Photo from Persona Majestica Photography via flickr.


Janine H.
Janine H.4 years ago

Thank you for the article. It is sad, when someone is alone. And i hope that other people have someone behaves supportedly towards and who takes them seriously.

Always when i hear about terrible things it makes me sad, and i cannot understand how someone could do something terrible - hurt, rape or kill a person or animal. When i was a child this also happened to me... and surviving this is more terrible than not (parents and other may think different, but a victim?), living with all this pain... living with guilty feelings... full with hate for the own self
No one can understand, because most people cannot imagine this, cannot imagine how much it change. Some of them think, that this would not be so terrible, because all would make some sexual experiences, and so it would not matter if there were some without own interest or wish. This cruel and superficial society makes me sick.

I know that it is not good to wish someone who does terrible things something as a punishment. But when i hear about violent people then i think why are they so "afraid" to go to someone equal and get some hits for their selves. This is a perversion, to think being more a man when beating a woman or a girl. This men are a shame for all normal men.

About me... there is no one who takes me seriously... :( i hate my own life, i wish i would vanish... that no one would have a burden (me) anymore...

Please forgive these sadness

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jane Warren
Jane Warren5 years ago

I wonder if the Harvard researchers included disability as a variable? I am thinking specifically about brain injury.

dawn w.
Dawn W.5 years ago

Guess I'm screwed.

Alyssa Riley
Alyssa Riley5 years ago

So basically its not being depressed that makes you have higher chances, its what you eat. I'm depressed and I'm the healthiest person I personally know.

Dotti Lydon
Dotti L.5 years ago

Very well put, Lloyd. Already sent you a green star this week.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda5 years ago

Very interesting article and it accords with my clinical experience.

Dorothy Dore
Dorothy Dore5 years ago

My best friend has depression and she took pills for depression but stopped because they really weren't helping her.I think doctors need to stop prescribing pills to fix the problem.People with depression really just need therapy.My friend says this is what helps the most.

Camila K.
Kamila A.5 years ago

I am with Karen I. I think that depression is far more prevalent than people might realize, and it causes so much pain. Life is depressing though, in many ways, so its a normal response. We need to take Ida W's advice about diet and hormone balance, and I would add exercise. It has a magical effect on me, but its often hard to get outside to do it. Don't isolate yourself---this is common for depressed women. You have to choose happiness and struggle against the crazy world sometimes, but its worth it.

Donna Farr
Donna F.5 years ago

I suffer from depression and post trumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is hard some days to just get out of bed and other days I just push myself forward to keep going. Being also disabled has made it even harder for me to do anything. I see where this diease could lead to a stroke or a heart attack. You just have to every day stay active and keep moving forward even though it is hard to do some days. And always follow your doctors advise to keep you healthy.