Are cholesterol and depression inversely related? A meta-analysis of the association between two cardiac risk factors

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Ann Behav Med

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version



BACKGROUND: Cholesterol and depression are both cardiac risk factors, but the direction and magnitude of the association between these risk factors is unclear. PURPOSE: Meta-analytic techniques were used to evaluate the associations among total, high-, and low-density cholesterol (TC, HDL, LDL, respectively) and depression in empirical studies. METHODS: PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and manual search strategies were used to identify descriptive studies reporting associations among TC, HDL, LDL, and depression; 30 reports were found for TC, 16 for HDL, and 11 for LDL. Effect sizes were computed and aggregated in accord with Hedges and Olkin's (Statistical methods for meta-analysis. New York: Academic Press; 1985) procedures. RESULTS: Higher TC was associated with lower levels of depression, d = -0.29; this association was substantially larger among medication-free samples (d = -0.51). An inverse, non-significant association was observed between LDL and depression (d = -0.17). High HDL was related to higher levels of depression, especially in women (d = 0.20). CONCLUSIONS: TC and depression were inversely related, with the strongest associations in medically naive samples, which is noteworthy because such samples should involve fewer confounds. One clinical implication is that the lipids of patients treated for depression should be monitored.


Cholesterol/blood, Cholesterol, HDL/blood, Cholesterol, LDL/blood, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depressive Disorder/blood/complications, Female, Heart Diseases/blood/complications, Humans, Male, Models, Biological, Risk Factors, Sex Factors

Published Article/Book Citation

Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 36:1 (2008) pp.33-43. DOI:10.1007/s12160-008-9045-8.

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