Depression boosts heart risk

If you want to see proof of the mind-body connection, look no further than the heart.

Heart problems can lead to depression, and different types of  depression can lead to heart problems -- and each one can make the other worse.

If you have heart failure, for example, you're already facing some pretty serious risks. But if you throw moderate or severe depression into the mix, your risk of death shoots up by 400 percent, according to one new study of different types of depression.

Even less severe cases of depression can take a toll, with mild depression increasing the risk of death by 60 percent.

Moderate or severe depression will also double your risk of needing ER care or hospitalization, while mild depression increases the risk of an ER visit by more than a third and hospitalization by 16 percent, according to the study in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Different types of depression aren't the only example of a mental condition that can take a real physical toll on the heart. Anxiety can also do you in, doubling the risk of death in heart disease patients, according to another new study.

And for ultimate double-whammy, anxiety and depression together can triple the risk of death in heart disease patients.

Both anxiety and different types of depression are known to increase the risk of heart disease and heart failure in the first place -- but also frequently appear suddenly after heart problems, even in patients who've never had either condition before.

It's hard not to feel anxious when you're told you have heart disease. And depression is especially common in patients after a heart attack, when they're facing a life full of new limits.

That's why it's positively critical that any doctor who treats the heart also helps to treat the mind -- but not with antidepressant drugs, which can actually increase the risk of heart problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and arrhythmias.

(Earlier this year I shared the ugly truth about antidepressant drug dangers. If you missed that issue, click here to catch up.)

When different types of depression and anxiety are the result of heart problems, patients often benefit from nondrug treatments -- including natural and homeopathic remedies.

In other cases, however, these conditions can have a deeper cause -- often hormonal or nutritional, and a holistic M.D. can help find that cause and correct it naturally in ways that won't jeopardize your heart.

Many times, these treatments for mood disorders can also improve your heart health at the same time.

I'm not done with how your mood can affect your body. Keep reading for some must-see news on stress.