In a paper to be published next month a team of researchers in China (You, H et al. 2013) have conducted a wide ranging literature review and meta-analysis of research conducted around the world between 1972 and 2012 looking at the links between use of statins to lower cholesterol levels and potential links with depression and anxiety.
It has long been known that there are links between low levels of cholesterol and problems with the serotonin system in the brain. Lower levels of serotonin tend to bring about depressive episodes and anxiety, which is why many anti-depressants used today are designed to chemically boost the serotonin levels in the brain.
When people have high cholesterol levels they are often prescribed neurosteroids or statins to reduce the cholesterol. What this piece of research shows is that when statins are used to lower cholesterol there is an increased risk of the development of depression and anxiety in the patient. This is also evidence to show that cholesterol lowering drugs may also indirectly (through the reduction of cholesterol) impair an individuals ability to regulate their emotions. This impairment of of emotion regulation ability whilst using prescribed neurosteriods or statins is important, especially for people engaging in courses like The Fear Course. As a result we have a series of guides for our clients who are taking statins which help them deal with the potential effects the drugs will cause. Contact me if you want a copy of the guide.
You, H. et al (2013) The relationship between statins and depression: a review of the literature. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2013 Aug;14(11):1467-76. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2013.803067.