Research conducted in the US has shown that people who use statins are much less likely to develop depression than people with heart disease not using statins.
The collaborative research was led by Dr Mary Whooley, a physician and experienced researcher in the topic of depression, and was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The research spanned six years and followed 965 patients, of which 776 were not depressed, either using statins or not. The study revealed that those who were using statins where 38% less likely to develop depression than those that weren’t taking them.
Currently statins are among the most widely used treatments for high cholesterol and are particularly effective at preventing arterial sclerosis, a precursor to heart disease. Dr Whooley believes that it’s possible for statins to have an effect on depression because of exactly this ability. Arteriosclerosis is also known as a hardening of the arteries, and if this happens in the brain, it’s been known to result in depression symptoms. Statins also have an effect on the inner lining of blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely, so that the body is better able to adapt to internal changes.
However, Dr Whooley warns that they did not take into account other health factors that could influence depression and that further research on the effects of statins on depression in heart disease patients is required. She says that it might well be that people who use statins were just likely to be more active, however she is hopeful about the potential of this new research.