The study is an online observational study carried out between April 2020 and February 2021 by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford in Oxford, UK, under the direction of Amy Gillespie, Ph.D.
Depression has been identified as one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the country affecting about 17.3 million adults in America alone.
A gloomy or depressed mood that lasts for two weeks or more is considered major depression.
Depression may develop into a serious medical condition, particularly if it is recurring and of moderate to severe intensity. The afflicted individual may experience severe suffering and perform badly at work, in school, and with family. In the worst cases, depression might result in suicide.
Since its introduction in the late 1980s to prevent heart attack and stroke, statins have been hailed as a wonder drug and prescribed to tens of millions of individuals. However, some research has suggested that the medications may still have other benefits, particularly those for mental health.
A recent study investigates the impact of statins on the emotional bias, a risk factor for depression. The study appears in Biological Psychiatry and was published by Elsevier.
During the study, SARS-CoV-2 epidemic was at its peak, and there was a significant increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders as well as worldwide stress levels. More than 2000 participants in the UK kept records of their current psychiatric symptoms, medications, and other aspects of their way of life. To assess memory, reward, and emotion processing all of which are connected to depression vulnerability they also completed cognitive activities.
In one experiment, participants had to determine the emotional state of their faces that expressed various levels of dread, happiness, sorrow, disgust, anger, or terror. The vast majority of subjects (84%) were not taking either medication, but a small group was either taking only statins (4%), only a different class of anti-hypertension medication (6%), or both (5%). Participants taking statins were less likely to recognize fearful or angry faces and more likely to report them as positive, indicating they had reduced negative emotional bias.
John Krystal, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, said of the work, “Statins are among the most commonly prescribed medications based on their ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes. These new data raise the possibility that some of their positive effects on health could be mediated by the effects of these drugs on the brain that promote emotional resilience.”
Researchers are advised to prioritize investigating the possible use of statins as a preventative intervention for depression.
Before use in clinical practice, future research must confirm the potential psychological benefits of statins through controlled, randomized clinical trials.