Doctors screening for heart problems check for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and other factors, but few will ask about depression.

Many studies around the world show that depression is a factor in heart disease. Otherwise healthy patients with symptoms of depression have been shown to have as much as a 70 percent higher risk of having a heart attack.

More evidence about the link recently came from the Women's Health Initiative. Of the 93,000 women in the study, those who were depressed had a 50 percent greater risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease than women who had no signs of depression.

Everyone should take depression seriously. Talk to the doctor about depression just as you would discuss other health issues. Many treatments are available.

Though they rarely ask about it, doctors know simple questions that can easily screen for symptoms of depression. Symptoms include a persistent sad, anxious or empty mood, loss of interest in hobbies, sex, or other pleasurable activities, and insomnia.