According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, talk therapy may not only help individuals cope with depression, but it could also have positive impacts on their heart health. The study found that a form of talk therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce symptoms of depression and improve heart health in individuals with cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease, which affects the heart and blood vessels, is the leading cause of death globally. Depression is a common condition that affects mental health, but it is also linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease. Therefore, finding ways to treat depression while also promoting heart health is of great interest to healthcare professionals.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and involved 157 participants with major depressive disorder and a history of cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either CBT or health education for 12 weeks. The CBT group received a treatment called “Behavioral Activation Treatment for Cardiac Patients” (BAT-C), which is a type of CBT specifically tailored for individuals with heart disease.
After 12 weeks of treatment, the researchers found that participants in the CBT group had lower depression scores and improved heart health compared to those in the health education group. Specifically, those in the CBT group had a greater reduction in symptoms of depression, lower heart rate, and improved heart rate variability, which is a measure of the heart’s ability to respond to stress.
The findings suggest that CBT could be a useful treatment option for individuals with both depression and cardiovascular disease. The study’s lead author, Dr. Lydia Chwastiak, said in a statement, “Our findings suggest that, in addition to improving depression, BAT-C may have effects on the cardiovascular system that could potentially reduce the risk of future cardiac events.”
While the study provides promising results, more research is needed to confirm the findings and determine how long the effects of CBT on heart health can last. Nevertheless, the study highlights the potential benefits of talk therapy for individuals with depression and cardiovascular disease.
Overall, the study provides hope that addressing mental health concerns through therapy can have positive impacts on physical health outcomes as well. For individuals struggling with both depression and heart disease, CBT could provide a helpful and holistic treatment option.