Previous research indicates that patients with severe symptoms of depression or anxiety are prone toward the development of dyslipidemia and abdominal obesity. We sought to study these associations longitudinally.
Among 2126 Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety participants, we studied whether severity of depressive (Inventory of Depressive Symptoms) or anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory) symptoms at baseline was associated with changes in lipids (i.e., total, high-density lipoprotein [HDL] or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides) or waist circumference during a 2-year follow-up period. We also examined whether changes in severity of symptoms were associated with changes in lipid or waist circumference levels over these 2 years. Multivariate linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, education, and tobacco consumption.
Baseline symptoms of depression or anxiety predicted a decrease in HDL cholesterol (adjusted β = −.062 [p = .003] and β = −.050 [p = .02], respectively) and an increase in waist circumference (adjusted β = .060 [p = .01] and β = .053 [p = .02], respectively) for 2 years. Reduction of symptoms of depression or anxiety over time did not coincide with an amelioration of lipid or waist circumference values.
People with initially severe symptoms of depression or anxiety showed a subsequent decrease in HDL cholesterol levels and an increase in abdominal obesity over time, independent of a potential reduction in symptom severity in this period. Therefore, such people are at elongated and increasing risk for dyslipidemia and obesity, predisposing them to cardiovascular disease.