Yet more evidence of a link between the body and mind comes in a new study of elderly people with severe depression.
Those who were assigned a 'depression coach' were far less likely to die during the five years of the study. And, inexplicably, deaths from cancer were 60 per cent lower than the group who were given standard care for depression.
The study looked at the impact of a 'depression coach', or depression care manager, on elderly people with severe depression who were registered with one of 20 practices in the USA that participated in the trial.
Overall, the death rate over the five years of the trial fell by 45 per cent among those who had a personal manager, but the most impressive improvement was in the reduction of deaths from cancer, which fell from 20.6 deaths per 1000 person years to just 8.9 deaths.
Researchers are baffled by the sudden improvement. Perhaps it's simply that the elderly had someone to talk to, and the manager gave them a reason to live.
Just a thought.
(Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007; 146: 689-98).
E-news broadcast 31 May 2007 No.364