“For the depressed public, it should be another reason to take one’s symptoms seriously and look for treatment,” said study co-author Stephen Kritchevsky, director of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
People with depression were twice as likely as others to gain visceral fat — the kind that surrounds internal organs and often shows up as belly fat. It raises the risk for heart disease and diabetes. There were 84 people with depression symptoms at the start of the study. They gained, on average, 9 square centimeters of visceral fat. In contrast, the 2,004 people who weren’t depressed lost visceral fat — on average, 7 square centimeters.
That variation “could mean the difference between developing a cardiovascular disease or not,” said lead author Nicole Vogelzangs of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. David Baron of Philadelphia’s Temple University School of Medicine praised the study. “Depression is a physical illness,” Dr. Baron said. “Maybe we should be even more aggressive in treating depression in this age group, whether through medication or talk therapy.”
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