Depression may increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes — even if someone leads an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

The study, which included more than 300,000. Britons, found that people who are happy were three times as likely to have chronic illnesses.  

Also, they were a fifth less likely than others to suffer from an irregular heartbeat. This increases your risk of getting a stroke.  

Even when you account for many other factors like weight, height, smoking, and genetics, there were still higher risks.  

Their study showed that depression can contribute to cardiovascular problems and more serious health conditions.   

Stress hormone cortisol is produced when someone suffers from depression, anxiety, or stress.

These effects may lead to serious heart issues over time.

A study of more than 300,000 Britons found those who reported being happy were a third less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers in the US said their study shows the 'contributing role' depression plays in the development of cardiovascular and wider health problems. Pictured: stock of depressed woman

A study of more than 300,000 Britons found those who reported being happy were a third less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes. American researchers claim that depression is a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease and other related health problems. Image: Stock of depressed women

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Yale University studied the genomes of 328,152 people, who were aged 57 on average and included in the UK Biobank. They found those who reported the lowest level of depression (blue line) were 34 per cent less likely to suffer from coronary artery disease (left graph) compared to those with high levels of depression (purple line). And hose with good mental health were 33 per cent less likely to report type 2 diabetes (middle graph) and had a 20 per cent lower risk of atrial fibrillation (right graph)

Yale University and Harvard Medical School analyzed genomes from 328,152 people who had an average age of 57. These individuals were then included in UK Biobank. Researchers found those with low levels of depression (34%) were 34% more likely to have coronary heart disease (left graph), compared to people who had high levels (purple line). Good mental health was associated with a 33% lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes and a 20% lower chance of developing atrial fibrillation.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Yale University, looked at the medical records of 328,152 people aged between 40 and 69 in the UK Biobank database. 

77% of respondents said that they have never been depressed enough, and 18.3% said that they are sometimes depressed.


The UK’s leading cause of death is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary arterial disease).

The main symptoms are chest pain, shortness, nausea, and weakness.

This happens when blood flow to the heart is disrupted or blocked by an accumulation of fat substances in the coronary vessels.

The fatty deposits build up over time and can cause arteries to become more dense. This can happen when you smoke or drink excessive alcohol.

Heart problems are more common in people with mental illnesses. 

Although it cannot be treated, treatment may manage the symptoms and lower the chance of suffering a heart attack.

Around 4 percentage points said that depressed people are more common than they thought.

This data was used to develop a special tool for risk prediction and treatment of heart disease.

According to the researchers, having fewer episodes of depression was linked with a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes or coronary heart disease. 

These findings were published in Nature Cardiovascular Research. They showed that people with the lowest levels of depression are 34% less likely to develop heart disease. 

While the relationship between depression, heart disease, and depression has been well documented and studied extensively in other areas of medicine and health care systems such as diabetes and depression research is still limited.

Diabetes and depression share many symptoms, including fatigue and trouble concentrating. This makes it difficult to differentiate the two. 

Researchers concluded that the research was independent of genetic risk for developing the disease.

If someone had a lower risk of developing heart disease than they had, and had high levels of depression, the risk was similar to that of someone with high genetic risks.

Those who are depressed had a greater chance of developing poor physical health. This was regardless of their diets, exercise habits, or alcohol consumption. 

Researchers said that the mechanisms behind depression-related cardiometabolic diseases are not fully understood.

They said that previous research had shown depression can trigger changes in the nervous systems, which could lead to changes in metabolism and heart rate.

A link has been made between depression and an inflammatory response which may affect organ function.

A higher rate of depression has been associated with high levels cholesterol. 

According to the team, treating depression can reduce your risk for developing cardiometabolic diseases.

They did however say that more information is needed on depression treatments and the effect they have on heart disease risk, type 2 diabetes, and irregular heartbeats. 

In an article that was published with the study, Dr Scott Ritchie (Cambridge University) and Dr Michael Inouye (University of Cambridge), stated that their findings “provide the first evidence” that depression and severe cases increase risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease beyond genetic susceptibility and lifestyle. 

New treatment avenues are suggested by the findings, like assessing individuals for depression with a simple questionnaire. It is an “attractive, low-cost” way to increase screening for and managing cardiovascular disease. 

This study raised the issue of whether those with depression or past history should be assessed for early or regular screening for cardiovascular disease.