Women who suffer from depression and use antidepressants have an increased risk of stroke, according to Harvard researchers.

A study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School for Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, shows that women with a history of depression have a 29% greater risk of having a stroke.

The study was concluded after observing more than 80,000 women aged 54-79 for six years.

"Depression has now been linked to stroke as well as cardiovascular disease in general," says internist Kathryn Rexrode, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the study's senior author. But "these are modest elevations in risk," she says, and added that it should not lead women to stop taking antidepressants.

Lead researcher An Pan of the Harvard School of Public Health says use of antidepressants indicate more severe depression.

Though the reasons are not clear, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the USA, after heart disease and cancer, hitting around 425,000 women a year, 55,000 more than men, the National Stroke Association says.