It is common for psychological factors to influence physical and biological factors, or for someone’s physical health to affect his or her mental health. Many studies have examined how depression and blood pressure are related in adults, as the leading causes of death and disability in the developed world are depression and cardiovascular disease (which is linked to high blood pressure). However, very few studies have examined how these two factors are linked in the child and adolescent population. Hammerton et al1 conducted a study in 2013 examining this relationship. Their objectives were to examine the relationship between blood pressure and the first episode of depression in children and adolescents; and to replicate these findings in an independent cohort. The study included two parts: the Early Prediction of Adolescent Depression (EPAD), which assessed the relationship between blood pressure levels and depression in the offspring of parents with depression, and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which collected blood pressure and information about depression in children and their mothers several times between when mothers were pregnant until the children were 12 years old.
Researchers found in the EPAD sample that there is a lower risk of depressive disorder in children of at least one parent with depression with higher levels of systolic blood pressure, as the children with the very lowest systolic blood pressure had the highest percentage of depressive disorder cases. In the ALSPAC, researchers also showed that lower blood pressure in children of a mother who has a history of recurrent depression is associated with future new-onset rates of depression in adolescents. Figure 4 demonstrates that when recurrent maternal depression was present, children with low systolic blood pressure showed the highest percentage of a depressive disorder.
Figure 1. Systolic blood pressure.
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