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Depression in Postmenopausal Women May Up Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk

Update Date: Jun 13, 2013 06:05 PM EDT

Postmenopausal women who suffer from depression may be at an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.

A new study revealed that postmenopausal women who are on antidepressants or suffer from depression are more likely to have a higher body mass index, larger waist circumference and inflammation.  Researchers explain that these factors are all strongly linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"It may be prudent to monitor post-menopausal women who have elevated depression symptoms or are taking antidepressant medication to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease," researcher Dr. Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said in a news release.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,953 postmenopausal women recruited into the Women's Health Initiative study from 1993 to 1998.  Researchers found that elevated depressive symptoms were found to be significantly associated with increased insulin levels and measure of insulin resistance. Researchers found that women who had elevated depression symptoms or were on antidepressants had higher average BMI and waist circumference than those not using antidepressants or without depressive symptoms. They also found that both elevated depressive symptoms and antidepressant use was associated with higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker of inflammation, which increases the risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Identifying these markers in women is important for diabetes prevention because they can be monitored for possible action before progression to full-blown diabetes," said Ma.

"Given that diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be effectively prevented or delayed in high-risk individuals with lifestyle modifications or pharmacological interventions, our findings indicate the prudence of monitoring BMI, waist circumference, along with established biomarkers for diabetes and cardiovascular risk including serum glucose, insulin resistance, and CRP among women with elevated depression symptoms, or who are taking antidepressant medication, to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease," co-researcher Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University said in a statement.

"Further intervention trial is needed to confirm our findings and identify the specific patterns of change associated with diabetic and cardiovascular disease risk markers and individual antidepressants and depression," Liu added.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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