Study: Depression increases risk of strokes

September 21, 2011 5:01:26 PM PDT
If you're depressed, beware: a new study says you're more likely to have a stroke and those strokes are more likely to be fatal. The Harvard study found depression adds to stroke risk if you're overweight or have high blood pressure. So what can you do? There are some options that could help and they're free.

When you say "depression," people now think of the economy. The truth is more people are depressed because they can't sell a house or may have lost a job.

"If you lost a job and you don't have the energy to go find another one, you may lose your health coverage there. I can't think of a worse time," said Dr. Jair Soares, who's conducting a depression study at UTHealth.

Seeing a doctor and getting medicine for depression costs money. Karen Glave knows first hand.

"My father was diagnosed with cancer and I had lost a job and I was supposed to be getting married all at the same time. And I was really feeling sad. And I really noticed when I actually got a new job and I thought, this was a happy time and it wasn't happy," Glave said.

Glave takes medication for her depression. But depression medications often work awhile and then stop working. Glave has been on several.

"It's almost like a switch that switches on and switches off in somebody's brain for reasons we don't understand and totally beyond somebody's will. Nobody chooses to suffer from a major depression," Dr. Soares said.

There is help. UTHealth psychiatrists are beginning a study on a new depression drug and they're taking volunteers. Also, they're offering free depression screenings in two weeks.

Scientists say depression also raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

To get into the study to get the free depression drug, call 713-486-2627 or 713-486-2720, or visit the website. The free depression checkup is Oct. 6 on National Depression Screening Day. It's from 10am to 3pm at the UTHealth Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences Building, 1941 East Road near the Med Center.

There are other sites but they'll be on the website They'll spend about 20 minutes filling out a one-page questionnaire and then seeing a mental health professional.