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Statin Use and Risk of Depression in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: Longitudinal Data From the Heart and Soul Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2012;73(5):610-615

Background: Statins are among the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide. Although their benefits for cardiovascular disease are well established, the effects of statins on depressive symptoms are unknown.

Method: We examined the association between baseline statin use (2000–2002) and subsequent depressive symptoms in a prospective cohort study of 965 outpatients with coronary disease from 12 outpatient clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area. Depressive symptoms were assessed annually for 6 years using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) (primary outcome measure). We evaluated the cross-sectional association between statin use and risk of depressive symptoms at baseline and the longitudinal association between baseline statin use and risk of depressive symptoms during follow-up.

Results: Of the 965 participants, 629 (65%) used statins. At baseline, statin users had lower mean ± SE PHQ depression scores than nonusers (4.8 ± 0.2 vs 5.9 ± 0.3, P < .01). Statin users were less likely than nonusers to have depression (PHQ score ≥ 10) at baseline (17% vs 24%; P = .02) and during follow-up (28% vs 40%; P < .01). Among the 776 patients without depressive symptoms at baseline (PHQ < 10), statin use was associated with a 48% decreased odds of developing depression during follow-up (odds ratio [OR], 0.52; 95% CI, 0.38–0.73; P < .01). After we adjusted for potentially confounding variables, statin use remained associated with a 38% decreased odds of subsequent depression (adjusted OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.41–0.95; P = .02).

Conclusions: We found that statin use was associated with a decreased risk of subsequent depressive symptoms in patients with coronary heart disease. Whether use of statins prevents depressive symptoms deserves further study.

J Clin Psychiatry 2012; 73(5): 610-615