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Study examines those with heart disease, depression

Many people in New Jersey know of someone with heart disease, or may suffer from a heart condition themselves. It is easy to understand how a physical ailment can be severe enough to become disabling. However, mental illnesses can be disabling as well, especially when combined with a physical ailment.

According to one study of approximately 24,000 individuals suffering from heart disease, the individuals who also had depression were two times more likely to pass away within 10 years on average, when compared to those who did not have depression. The mortality risk of those studied linked to depression was greater than other factors that could affect the mortality risk of those studied, such as diabetes, future heart disease or even old age.

The study followed individuals with coronary artery disease from their initial diagnosis going back to 1993. What makes this study unique is that it followed individuals who suffered from heart disease and subsequently developed depression for several years, rather than only for one to 12 months, which other studies had done.

Of the individuals studied, about 50 percent developed depression within three years of being diagnosed with heart disease. However, the study found that it didn't make much of a difference if a person with heart disease was diagnosed with depression after one year or even five years -- the mortality risk was still twice that of those who did not develop depression.

This study is significant, as it shows how mental illness can be a disabling or even fatal condition. Unfortunately, many of those who suffer from a mental illness on top of a physical ailment find that these conditions combined keep them from living a normal life, in which they are able to support themselves independently. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration recognizes this, and allows those with depression and other mental health issues to seek Social Security disability benefits. Those who want more information about disability coverage for mental health issues may want to seek the advice of an attorney, to determine how to best move forward.

Source: Deseret News, "Intermountain Healthcare study: Depression in heart disease patients doubles their mortality risk," Ben Lockhart, Aug. 5, 2017

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