Harvard Mental Health Letter

Two-way street between depression and heart disease

Lifting depression can help the heart; exercise is essential.

When a cardiologist asks how a patient is feeling, the question usually refers to the body. But he or she should ask about moods and emotions, too. The answer can offer important information about a person's general as well as cardiovascular health.

Mental and physical health, historically understood as separate entities, are now known to be profoundly intertwined. The relationship between depression and heart disease is a good example. People who are depressed are more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than people who aren't depressed. And those who have had a heart attack or live with heart failure or another cardiovascular condition are more likely to fall into depression than those without these diseases.

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