Suffering from mental health problems as an adolescent is a challenge, however young people might be vulnerable in other ways too.
Depression and bipolar disorder are common disorders among teenagers. These mood-related issues show up during one’s youth. Experts from The American Health Association are now urging monitoring for cardiovascular diseases in these adolescents.
Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and the University of Toronto, lead author of the study, reported that what they demonstrated in these youth suffering from bipolar or depression disorders was that they had increased rates for heart disease and other similar conditions.
According to Dr. B. Goldstein, the main picture is that now they can put the findings into an agenda and make sure that families, primary care physicians and the health care system are aware that teenagers are at risk, so that something can be done for them.
The link between depression and cardiovascular diseases can be emphasized concretely by details such as: obesity, suboptimal nutrition and exercise, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Families should show support by asking a psychiatrist or pediatrician about their potentially affected children. Their blood pressure, their weight should be tracked, to make sure the risk factors wouldn’t accumulate, as most of the cardiovascular risks could indeed be prevented or reduced.
The lead author continued by saying that something of this magnitude had to display enough conclusive facts, which were put under the spotlight at the present time.
However, this was something that was overlooked before, on the “radar” for teens that display mood disorders.
Dr. Goldstein looked at recent findings that examined cardiovascular events, like heart attacks and death in young people. He found out the leading cause of death in youngsters who experienced mood disorders was heart disease. He hoped this would change the manner in which people perceived mental illness.
He said that people didn’t associate mental disorders to physical disorders, but they are clearly connected.
Moreover, major depression and bipolar disorder are common mood disorders which affect approximately 10 percent of adolescents.
Symptoms of major depression include persistent sadness, loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings, between major depression and mania. It often includes heightened elation, irritability and decreased need for sleep.
Teens with mood disorders are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drug abuse and being physically inactive.
However, these malignant behaviors do not explain the cardiovascular risks, while, similarly, medication does not explain these particular increased risks, says Dr. Goldstein.
Particular mood medication may cause weight gain and high blood pressure, cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. Most of the subjects analyzed were not on any medication though.
It seems it is still unclear why these mood disorders are in correlation with heart disease, but one valid theory is that a systemic predisposition to inflammation may be a cause.
Dr. Goldstein concluded that a biological approach should be taken into consideration, so that would give him and his team insight regarding the best targets for prevention.
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