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The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at 60 years of mental health data on 3,410 adults during three periods (1952-1967, 1968-1990 and 1991- 2011) from a region in Atlantic Canada and linked the data to deaths in the Canadian Mortality Database.
Researchers found that the link between depression and an increased risk of death was observed in all decades of the study among men, whereas it emerged among women beginning in the 1990s.
"The lifespan for young adults with depression at age 25 was markedly shorter over the 60-year period, ranging from 10 to 12 fewer years of life in the first group, four to seven years in the second group and seven to 18 fewer years of life in the 1992 group," said Ian Colman from University of Ottawa in Canada.
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 - these did not explain the increased risk of death associated with depression, researchers said.
"During the last 20 years of the study 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 Colman.
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