The proverbial broken heart can actually do the job for real: Depressed people have double the risk of heart attack and a much higher risk of heart problems overall than non-depressed people.
A fluke? No way -- the link has been made way too often, in too many studies.
And now, the latest research shows how the mental strain of depression can take a physical toll on the body -- specifically in ways that can dramatically boost your heart risk.
Researchers gave stress tests to 866 people, about 5 percent of whom were depressed -- and these people had a much harder time recovering afterwards.
In fact, it seems like the stress didn't end with the test: Depressed people had heart rates that kept galloping and blood pressure levels that stayed high well after everyone else returned to normal.
That's a sure sign of stress on the body -- and researchers say these delays in recovery show that the body's stress response simply isn't working right.
And you already know what too much stress can do to even the healthiest of hearts.
That's not the only reason for the link between depression and heart disease. As the researchers behind the new study point out, depressed people tend to have lousy habits -- they let themselves go, and eventually it takes a toll on the body.
But there's also a third option out there -- one the new study didn't look at: meds.
Antidepressant drugs can do a number on the body from top to bottom, and the older tricyclic meds that were used to treat depression in the decades before SSRIs came along in particular have been linked to serious heart problems.
In one study, researchers found that tricyclic antidepressants increased heart risk by more than a third. Another recent study found that both tricyclics and SSRIs increase the risk of stroke in women.
SSRIs have even been linked to sudden cardiac death in women.
And if you already have heart disease, SSRIs might make the condition worse or even hasten your death: A Duke University study from 2006 found that heart patients who took the antidepressants had a 55 percent higher risk of death.
SSRIs have also been linked to everything from personality changes and sexual side effects to headaches, nausea, diarrhea and even suicide -- and they don't even work very well to boot, with many failing to beat placebos in studies.
Clearly depression can't be ignored. But just as clearly, it can't be treated with meds, either.
That's enough on depression -- keep reading for the best way to stay happy.