Researchers from Indiana University Center for Aging Research and assistant professor of psychology at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Jesse Stewart, Ph.D., will conduct a study in collaboration with the American Heart Association to determine if depression intervention can prevent heart disease. The study, called “Beating the Blues for Your Heart”, will begin this year and will explore whether artery function can be improved by treating depressive symptoms in patients. Depression, like elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart attacks and heart disease in the United States. “Evidence, including our own past research, strongly suggests that depression is an independent risk factor for heart disease. A depressed individual is at greater risk for a future heart attack than someone who is not depressed. Our goal is to treat depression before it contributes to a heart attack,” said Stewart.
The study will follow 30 heart healthy people with depressive symptoms. They will be divided into two groups, one receiving traditional treatment and the other will receive an eight week protocol termed Beating the Blues, a technologically advanced computerized regimen that is being applied in the UK. Each participant will undergo screenings for artery function before and after the treatment. “If earlier treatment of depression, with a computerized therapy which can be confidentially and inexpensively administered anywhere at a time that is convenient for the patient, effectively reduces heart disease risk as we hypothesize, this information will provide a new treatment option that could be considered along with treatments for traditional risk factors, such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol,” added Stewart. He hopes that the findings from this study will lead to a larger clinical study. “Decreasing risk of ever having a heart attack by changing clinical practice to include depression treatment should significantly reduce disability and death from heart disease,” concluded Stewart.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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