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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Depression is as deadly as smoking: Study

Based on a series of tests, European scientists now believe that depression can increase mortality rates as much as smoking.

According to a study by researchers at the King's College in London, and the University of Bergen in Norway, depression is as deadly as smoking.

"Patients with depression face an overall increased risk of mortality, while a combination of depression and anxiety lowers the mortality risk compared with depression alone," lead author Dr Robert Stewart said.

He said, "The possible reasons that may underlie these surprising findings is that Unlike smoking, we don't know how causal the association with depression is but it does suggest that more attention should be paid to this link because the association persisted after adjusting for many other factors".

Utilising a unique link between a survey of over 60,000 people and a comprehensive mortality database, the researchers found that over the four years following the survey, the mortality risk was increased to a similar extent in people who were depressed as in people who were smokers, The British Journal of Psychiatry said.

"One of the main messages from this research is that 'a little anxiety may be good for you," Stewart said.

In light of the findings, Dr Stewart makes suggestions on the focus of future developments in the treatment of depression and anxiety: "The physical health of people with current or previous mental disorder needs a lot more attention than it gets at the moment".

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