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BACKGROUND: Depression is associated with increased risk of several general medical conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The nature of the association is complex and may involve bidirectional causation or a common pathophysiology. AIMS: To determine whether young people without depression but at increased familial risk have altered metabolic and blood pressure markers relative to matched controls. METHOD: We studied young people (n = 85), who had a parent with depression but no personal history of depressive illness (FH+) and healthy controls (n = 69). Cardiovascular risk profile was assessed by a fasting blood sample to measure insulin, glucose, lipids and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and blood pressure was measured centrally and peripherally. Arterial stiffness and waking cortisol concentration were also measured. RESULTS: Compared with controls, the FH+ group demonstrated increased peripheral and central systolic blood pressure, increased arterial stiffness and diminished insulin sensitivity but they did not differ from controls in measures of lipids, CRP or waking cortisol. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that young people at increased familial risk of depression show evidence of altered cardiovascular risk profile in young adulthood even in the absence of depressive symptoms. It is possible therefore that vulnerability to conditions such as hypertension and diabetes may precede the onset of major depression and may share common risk factors.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





18 - 23


Adolescent, Affect, Anxiety, Blood Pressure, C-Reactive Protein, Cardiovascular Diseases, Depressive Disorder, Diabetes Mellitus, Female, Health Behavior, Humans, Insulin Resistance, Male, Metabolome, Risk Factors, Young Adult