Mounting evidence indicates that chronic stressors and depressive symptoms contribute to morbidity and mortality from cardiac disease. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms responsible for these effects or about why depressive symptoms and cardiac disease co-occur so frequently. In this article we outline a novel model that seeks to address these issues. It asserts that chronic stressors activate the immune system in a way that leads to persistent inflammation. With long-term exposure to the products of inflammation, people develop symptoms of depression and experience progression of atherosclerosis, the pathologic condition that underlies cardiac disease.
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