Depression itself-and not the drugs used to treat it-may be responsible for an increased risk of heart attack, according to a new study.

The Study

Researchers analyzed data on 60,000 British heart attack patients, comparing their use of antidepressants with that of 360,000 randomly selected individuals who did not have a history of heart attacks.


Patients faced an increased risk of heart attack during the first month of taking an antidepressant, the researchers found.

This risk was constant regardless of the type of antidepressant used.

Patients taking the older class of tricyclic antidepressants, as well as those taking the newer class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), for the first time faced double the risk of heart attack within the next seven days compared with people who were not taking these medications.

However, this increased heart attack risk fell sharply among patients who took antidepressants for more than one month.

Possible Explanation

The British team speculates that any increase in heart attack risk may be linked to underlying depression and not to the use of antidepressants.

Control Panic Attacks

To get panic under control, stop what you are doing and tell yourself that the situation is not threatening.

Refocus on something else. Breathe deeply and regularly to change your body's fight-or-flight response.

Helpful: Keep a daily log of events that cause you to feel panic. Use the log to help you identify situations that you should avoid or plan for in advance so you can handle them. Planning can help whether you have a full-fledged panic disorder or a milder form, such as chronic anxiety.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in