Metabolic Syndrome: A Risk Factor for Depression?

NEW YORK, March 11, 2008 (Reuters Health) - A cluster of heart disease and diabetes risk factors known as the metabolic syndrome may be a "predisposing factor for the development of depression," Finnish researchers report.

Dr. Hannu Koponen of Kuopio University in Kuopio, Finland, and colleagues followed a large group of middle-aged men and women living in central Finland for 7 years. At the start of the study in 1998, they checked for symptoms of depression using a standard instrument called the Beck Depression Inventory. They also assessed the presence of metabolic syndrome in the subjects, using established criteria.

Components of metabolic syndrome include high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and excess belly fat.

According to Koponen and colleagues, non-depressed subjects at the start of the study who were found to have the metabolic syndrome were twice as likely as those without the metabolic syndrome to have symptoms of depression at follow-up 7 years later.

The increasing incidence of metabolic syndrome suggests that the incidence of depression may rise accordingly, the researchers warn in a report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Effective prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome may, in turn, reduce the incidence of depression.

"In the future, new long-term studies are needed to elucidate the long-term course and prognosis, proper treatment and specific symptom picture of depression related to metabolic syndrome," the investigators write.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, February 2008.