Low Cholesterol Linked to Severe Depression
March 23, 2000 (Baltimore) -- Building on previous medical research finding
a link between low cholesterol levels and violent death, notably suicide, a new
study shows that men with relatively low cholesterol levels were up to seven
times more likely to report symptoms of severe depression.
"Studies looking at the relationship between cholesterol level and
depressive symptoms are scarce," says Diederick Grobbee, MD, PhD, co-author
of the study, in a press release. "Because there has been so little
research in this area, the reasons why low cholesterol influences the
occurrence of depressive symptoms are unknown. This study provides further
evidence that there is a relationship and reinforces the need to look at the
reasons for the relationship." Grobbee is chair of the Julius Center for
Patient Oriented Research at University Medical Center in Utrecht,
Grobbee and colleagues found that 130 men with total cholesterol levels less
than 175 over a four-year period were four to seven times more likely to have
symptoms of severe depression, compared with men with cholesterol levels of 230
to 270. No association was seen between cholesterol levels and anger or
hostility. Recent weight loss and lower caloric intake were also associated
"This may be an important finding in the ongoing debate concerning the
putative association between low cholesterol levels and death due to violent
causes. Future studies are needed to reveal the mechanisms of this increased
risk and to demonstrate its causal association with chronically low cholesterol
levels," write Grobbee and colleagues.
Edward Suarez, PhD, who was not involved in the study, tells WebMD that he
has also done research supporting a link between some component of blood fats,
such as cholesterol or triglycerides, and depression and anxiety. He is
assistant professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center in
Durham, N.C. "I think that at some point, measurement of cholesterol and
the cholesterol profile may be used as a screening tool for depression,"
- According to a recent study, men who have relatively low levels of
cholesterol are four to seven times more likely to report symptoms of severe
depression than men with high cholesterol levels.
- Although there have been a few studies showing this relationship between
cholesterol and depression, scientists are still unsure how to explain this
- Other attributes associated with depression in this study were recent
weight loss and low caloric intake.