Health Team

Depression, Heart Disease Often Linked

Researchers compared medication and one type of psychotherapy as they searched for the best way to treat both heart disease and depression.

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Fifteen years ago, Edward Petriantonio experienced the one-two punch of depression and a heart attack after the death of a loved one. Other family problems came to the surface, and then his heart gave out, he said.

“(People suffering from depression) should go see a doctor,” Petriantonio said. “See a doctor. Don't wait.”

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers throughout Canada studied about 300 patients for 12 weeks. They compared two forms of treatment for depression -- the anti-depressant citalopram and psychotherapy.

“It has been known for many years that depression is highly prevalent in patients with heart disease, so we wanted to evaluate two treatments of depression,” said Dr. Francois Lesperance, a researcher at the University of Montreal.

“An antidepressant working on the serotonin system in the brain was helping the patient with depression, improving their depressive symptoms."

But weekly psychotherapy sessions -- where patients talk about their stresses, problems and relationship issues -- didn't work as well.

“Talking about these issues, trying to make changes, seems to have been difficult for patients with heart disease," said Lesperance.

Lesperance said psychotherapy has been found to be useful for some people dealing with both heart disease and depression.

Symptoms of depression include loss of interest in things that create pleasure, fatigue, sleep problems, sadness and guilt


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