Researchers at the University of South Australia (Australia) have found a causal relationship between depression and a variety of respiratory, heart and digestive diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illness in people diagnosed with depression.
In this study, researchers evaluated data from 337,536 participants in the UK Biobank to confirm the range of diseases affected by depression. The study is the first to use MR-PheWAS as an analysis to detect a causal link between depression and a variety of diseases. MR-PheWAS is a method that uses genetic data to explore causal associations between a risk factor – in this case, depression – and a variety of disease outcomes.
The results of the study, published in ‘Molecular Psychiatry’, showed a causal relationship between depression and a variety of respiratory, heart and digestive diseases including: asthma, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, esophagitis, gastroenteritis, E.coli infections and urinary system disorders
“The data shows that people living with serious mental illnesses, such as depression, have much higher rates of physical illnesses than those of the general population,” said Anwar Mulugeta, researchers at the University of South Australia.
Researchers have explained that until now studies have been complicated by the possibility of other confounding factors, or even by inverse causality where the physical condition is supposed to cause depression. But with the new study, understanding the relationship between depression and other diseases can reduce the incidence of comorbidities, that is, the presence of one or more additional conditions that occur with a primary condition.
“Today, it is estimated that almost half of the population experiences a mental health condition in their lives,” said Professor Elina Hyppönen, director of the Australian Center for Precision Health Professor Hyppönen.
The researcher has also stressed the importance of concentrating on diet and promoting healthy lifestyles in this context. “It was worrisome to see that depression was associated with multiple inflammatory and even hemorrhagic gastrointestinal complications, which may be due to the side effects of medications used to treat depression, or even due to the increased incidence of e-coli infections, which could prevent yourself, “Hyppönen explained.
“Understanding the connections between depression and other diseases is essential to ensure that people with depression receive the support they need. The more we can see the patient as a whole, the better the results,” he concluded.
© 2019 Europa Press.