|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Dear Becky, Your question is an interesting one, and one that has been in the news very often in the last couple of years. Several studies have found that approximately 20% of men who have had a myocardial infarction develop a major depression afterwards. Not only is this unfortunate because of the suffering that goes along with major depression, but this depression is also associated with a 3-4 times higher risk of mortality due to heart disease. It also known that 80% of those with depression in the general population are untreated. The combination of these two facts make it a very good idea to assess those with recent M.I. for possible depression. All physicins are trained to screen for major depression, but many are too busy to take the time to actually do it. Since these statistics have been in the news recently, I hope that the family members and loved ones of these possible victims of depression will help them to seek help for any symptoms of depression. Some of the hallmarks of depression are change in sleep patterns, loss or gain of weight, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, loss of concentration, anxiety, loss of pleasure in usually enjoyable activities and irritability. If someone you know has any of these symptoms please help them to get treatment. It is becoming increasingly accepted that acute anxiety is the most important risk factor for suicide. Suicide is not known to be more common in those with heart disease, but is always an important concern when dealing with depression. Psychiatric medication has come a very long way in recent years, and there are many medications on the market now that can save lives. Thank you for your question. Sincerely, Sarah Martin Mason, Mad Scientist
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