Mechanisms linking depression to cardiovascular disease: What do epidemiological studies tell us?

Brenda W.J.H. Penninx*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The burden of disease for depression goes beyond functioning and quality of life and extends to somatic health. Depression has shown to subsequently increase the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. These somatic consequences can be partly explained by mediating mechanisms such as unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, excessive alcohol use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet) or unfavorable pathophysiological disturbances (metabolic, immuno-inflammatory, autonomic, and HPA-axis dysregulations). This chapter presents epidemiological evidence for the existence of these plausible underlying mechanisms that link depression to cardiovascular disease. However, alternative explanations for an increased cardiovascular risk in depressed persons are also discussed, namely, the confounding hypothesis, iatrogenic effects, or noncausal "third factors."

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCardiovascular Diseases and Depression
Subtitle of host publicationTreatment and Prevention in Psychocardiology
EditorsB. Baune, P. Tully
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing Switzerland
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319324807
ISBN (Print)9783319324784
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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