Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 33–43

Are Cholesterol and Depression Inversely Related? A Meta-analysis of the Association Between Two Cardiac Risk Factors

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-008-9045-8

Cite this article as:
Shin, J.Y., Suls, J. & Martin, R. ann. behav. med. (2008) 36: 33. doi:10.1007/s12160-008-9045-8



Cholesterol and depression are both cardiac risk factors, but the direction and magnitude of the association between these risk factors is unclear.


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.


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.


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).


TC and depression were inversely related, with the strongest associations in medically naïve 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.


CholesterolDepressionCardiac risk factors

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of NursingUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Center for Research in the Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice, Veterans AffairsMedical CenterIowa CityUSA