Does Depression Shorten Life Expectancy?

Many studies have shown that depression is a major factor in reducing life expectancy of individuals in a variety of situations. Depression on its own does not cause death but the behaviors associated with depressed individuals increases the risk of chronic and deadly diseases. These diseases may include coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. When individuals are depressed they may develop habits that don’t promote health and wellness such as:

  • Stress Eating
  • Quitting or reducing their regular exercise
  • Difficulty maintaining regular sleep patterns
  • Choosing to be alone more often than usual


A Canadian study published in 2017, followed thousands of adults between the years 1952 and 2011 examining bouts of depression, lifestyle choices made by the participants, and mortality. The six-decade Canadian study looked at how depression affects lives over a long period of time, taking into account popular lifestyle trends and separating the data for men and women. The researchers focused on the data related to chronic conditions associated with depression. Depression was associated with an increased risk of premature death in every decade of the study for men, and beginning in the 1990s for women. This increased risk was found to last as long as 20 years after a depressive episode, but, if the depression didn’t come back, the risk factors significantly reduced.

If you have ever known someone with depression or have experienced it yourself, you know that your quality of life is severely impacted. Depression disconnects us from those we love and the things we love to do. We may lose interest in spending time with friends and family and when we do, we may not be as interactive or engaged as we used to be. Many days we may feel tired more easily and are not interested in our favorite pastimes; like hobbies, outdoor activities, or our career. In general, we may be a lot less social than usual, talking and laughing less than we used to.

So, you ask, can treating depression lengthen my life?


Very possibly! An article published by Reuters about that long Canadian study says: “The connection between depression and a shorter lifespan appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode, leading the researchers to conclude that at least part of the risk might be reversed by effectively treating the mental illness.”

Some behaviors we can engage in to combat depression and improve our mental health are:

  • Healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Engaging in positive social interactions

There are many ways to fight and beat depression and you don’t have to do it alone. Dr. Martha St. John and her team would like to help you in your battle against depression. We offer a variety of safe and effective depression treatment options and the staff provides compassionate care. Our aim is to improve the lives of patients who suffer from depression and help you get back to being yourself.

Canadian Study:
Reuters Article: