Hypercholesterolemia is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Therefore, therapeutic lowering of cholesterol is an important preventive measure of cardiac morbidity and death. As one side effect, cholesterol-lowering drugs appear to increase the mortality due to suicides or violence, and low lipid concentrations were found to be associated with trait measures of depression. We compared serum cholesterol concentrations and the Beck Depression Rating Scale (Beck's score) in 604 otherwise healthy outpatients who visited the physician's office for a medical health check-up; 65.4% of individuals presented with serum cholesterol concentrations ≥5.2 mmol/l (>200 mg/dl) and 5.3% had elevated Beck's score (>19), indicative for depression. Beck's score was higher in patients with cholesterol concentrations above the 75th percentile (=6.2 mmol/l; U = 31221, p<0.02, Mann-Whitney U-test), and Beck's score correlated with cholesterol concentrations and with age. Thus, in contrast to the widely accepted view, in our study, higher cholesterol concentrations were associated with signs of depressive mood. Hypercholesterolemia may not necessarily increase the risk of depressive mood, conversely, increased intake of fat and carbohydrates by individuals with depressive mood may increase cholesterol levels.
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