Lowering Cholesterol Can Cause Depression

| May 23, 2011 | Comments (4)

Listen to the advice given by many doctors and scientists, and you’d soon believe that cholesterol is a killer substance that needs to be tamed. Yet, the reality is that it’s a natural substance, present in every cell membrane in your body and essential for normal cell function. It’s also a basic building block of many essential hormones in your body, as well as vitamin D.

Most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is made in your liver. When individuals reduce cholesterol in their diets, their liver will generally ramp up production. In other words, the body seems to like to keep cholesterol levels from falling too low.

This fact almost certainly reflects how essential cholesterol is to life and health. Other evidence of this comes in the form of studies, which link low levels of cholesterol with an enhanced risk of death, principally from cancer. I’ve written about this in a previous post, click here for more details:

It’s also been noted that low levels of so-called ‘unhealthy’ LDL-cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of depression, click here for full details. In this post, I explained how your brain is a very ‘cholesterol-rich’ organ, and how cholesterol is essential for the proper functioning of ‘synapses’ – where one nerve cell communicates with another.

Synapses are essentially tiny ‘gaps’ that occur between nerve cells. Communication between nerve cells is mediated by the release of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that float across the ‘gaps’ and attach to receptors on the adjoining nerve cells. There are many different neurotransmitters in your brain, but one of the key ones is serotonin. This chemical exerts an anti-depressant and ‘feel good’ affect in the brain. It’s the brain chemical that anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac (fluoxetine) are designed to potentiate in the brain.

Given that cholesterol is essential to the proper functioning of synapses, and that serotonin exerts its effects in these structures, could it be that impeding the supply of cholesterol to the brain might cause problems here?

This is essentially the question that was asked by some researchers based in Hyderabad, in India. For the purpose of their research, animals were treated with the statin (cholesterol-lowering) drug mevastatin. In the long term, this was found to change both the structure and function of the serotonin receptors on nerve cells. The implications of this are profound, because impaired serotonin functioning in the brain increases the risk of anxiety and depression. Perhaps it is no surprise, therefore, that evidence exists, which reveals how statins can alter mood and, in particular, how they have the potential to trigger depression [2].

In the Indian study, the researchers went on to see what happened when more cholesterol was made available again. In these circumstances, serotonin functioning was restored.

Their findings should remind us that cholesterol is a vital constituent in the body. The fact that the body fights to make more of it if we reduce supply, via our diet for example, tells us something, I think.

Here’s to a healthy heart

Dr John Briffa
for The Cholesterol Truth

Sign up for our FREE e-letter, The Daily Health, and be the first to learn about urgent advances to help manage your cholesterol and boost your heart health.

When you subscribe today, you'll receive a FREE special report, 10 Steps To Healthy Cholesterol Levels, that will tell you:

1. 10 simple secrets that will help you control your cholesterol - without the risks of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs...

2. The cholesterol 'superfoods' that will help you balance your cholesterol naturally, and...

3. The 2 biggest threats to your heart that you should be tested for (but neither of them is cholesterol!)

We respect your privacy and will never share your details with anyone else. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Shrivastava S, et al. Chronic cholesterol depletion using statin impairs the function and dynamics of human serotonin(1A) receptors. Biochemistry 2010;49(26):5426-35.

2. While A, et al. The effects of statins on mood: A review of the literature. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2010 Sep 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Latest Cholesterol News, Latest Cholesterol Research, What Doctors Don't Tell You

Comments (4)

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.

  1. malinamartis says:

    Awesome post here, great informative blog has been displayed here..thanks for the sharing…kamagra

  2. Cholesterol Truth Administrator says:

    Dear RSThank you for your comment, however we have to reiterate the fact that we don’t sell any drugs or treatments on The Cholesterol Truth. This blog serves as an information service only is not focussed on the sale of any drugs.Furthermore, all our articles are supported by references, which are listed at the bottom of each article… You will find that most of these are from prestigious and respected journals… Perhaps your doctor would be interested to follow this up for himself and let the facts speak for itself.Regards.TCT.

  3. RS says:

    I have been reading your articles regarding cholestrol and that we should not take statins. I stopped taking for 6 months. Today I went fro Blood test and was told by my Heart doctor that my cholestrol HDL level taken in July 2010 was 2.72 and now in May 24th it is 3.57. Very high and he increased by statin drug from 20mg to 40mg. I told him about your article but he said that that there is no strong evidence of your works and he swears that taking statin will save me. Now you dont confuse innocent people. You also want to make money and sell your drugs. I request that you come clean and tell me what medicine to take to lower it quickly in 2 months and how you going to send it to me in Singapore. My medical and medicine is free in Singapore because I am a goverment clean. So pleae clearly come forward with your remedy and make it cheap if you are concerned about saving lives. Regards. RS

  4. peter.walker says:

    I have recently been tested twice over the last 4 months and have been given a score of 8.4 I have read many articles most agree the use of statins is the way forward I have read Malcom kendricks great colestral con and a few other articles now yours. I am now confused!!!!!!   Great article makes sense   Peter   From: The Cholesterol Truth [mailto:post=cholesterol.posterous.com@posterous.com] On Behalf Of The Cholesterol TruthSent: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:37 PMTo: Peter WalkerSubject: [thecholesteroltruth.com] Lowering Cholesterol Can Cause Depression

Leave a Reply

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.