Link Found Between Belly Fat and Depression
Numerous studies have shown that depression is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, though exactly how has never been clear — until now. In May, researchers at Rush University Medical Center revealed study results showing that depression is linked with the accumulation of visceral fat, the fat packed between internal organs at the waistline. Commonly called "belly fat," visceral fat has long been known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The study involved more than 400 middle-aged white and black women who were participating in the Women in the South Side Health (WISH) Project in Chicago, a large-scale study of the menopausal transition. Researchers found a strong correlation between depression and the amount of visceral fat women had — particularly among overweight and obese women. This correlation held true even when researchers accounted for other factors that might explain the accumulation of this fat, such as levels of physical activity. The study found no association between depression and subcutaneous fat — fat deposited just beneath the skin.
"Based on these findings, depression appears to cause certain chemical changes in the body that trigger the accumulation of visceral fat," says lead investigator and preventive medicine specialist Lynda Powell, PhD. "But further research is needed to pinpoint the exact process behind these changes."
Sleeping To Cope With Headaches May Lead To Other Problems
Using sleep or napping to cope with chronic pain caused by tension headaches could lead to chronic insomnia, according to a new study by researchers at Rush that was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
"Insomnia is a common complaint among headache sufferers," says lead investigator Jason Ong, PhD, of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush. "While napping may relieve pain, it may also decrease the brain's need for nighttime sleep, leading to reduced ability to initiate and maintain sleep overnight."
Many negative health consequences are associated with chronic insomnia, including increased risk of high blood pressure, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide.
Prolonged lack of sleep can also affect a person's ability to work effectively or drive safely.
Ong recommends seeing a doctor if tension headaches or sleep problems begin to interfere with your quality of life or ability to function. "Self-management can be a helpful first step," he says. "But it's important to know that there are established nondrug treatments, such as biofeedback and relaxation strategies, that can alleviate tension-type headaches without also potentially causing sleep disturbances."