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Due to the pressure caused by changing societal roles and multiple responsibilities, depression has significantly increased the risk of early death in women, a study has found.

The findings showed that the risk of death associated with depression appeared strongest in the years following a depressive episode.

"During the recent years in which women's risk of death increased significantly, roles have changed dramatically both at home and in the workplace, and many women shoulder multiple responsibilities and expectations," said Ian Colman from the University of Ottawa. 

In the study, the lifespan for young adults with depression at age 25 was markedly shorter over the 60-year period — the lifespan shortened ranging from 10 to 12 fewer years of life, then four to seven years and later seven to 18 fewer years of life. 

"At first the association was limited to men, but in later years it was seen for women as well," said Stephen Gilman from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland, US. 

For the study, published in CMAJ, the team looked at 60 years of mental health data on 3410 adults from a region in Atlantic Canada and linked the data to deaths in the Canadian Mortality Database. 

Though depression has also been linked with poorer diet, lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption -- all factors that can result in chronic health conditions -- did not explain the increased risk of death associated with depression in this study, the researchers noted.

Family physicians should monitor the patients for mood disturbances, especially recurrent episodes of depression, so that they may offer treatment and support, the researchers suggested.

- IANS