Wonder Drug Could Provide Protection Against Depression

AI Medicine Pharmaceutical Drugs

A new study from the University of Oxford revealed that patients taking statins had reduced negative emotional bias.

Statins have been linked with reduced negative emotional bias

With 17.3 million adult Americans affected, depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the country. A gloomy or depressed mood that lasts for two weeks or more is considered major depression.

Depression is distinct from common mood swings and brief emotional reactions to problems in daily life. 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.

The online observational study was 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. At this time, the 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. In order 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 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 were 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.

Dr. Gillespie said, “We found that taking a statin medication was associated with significantly lower levels of negative emotional bias when interpreting facial expressions; this was not seen with other medications, such as blood pressure medications.”

“We know that reducing negative emotional bias can be important for the treatment of depression,” said Dr. Gillespie. “Our findings are important as they provide evidence that statins may provide protection against depression. Of particular note, we saw these results during the high-stress context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings also provide the first potential psychological explanation of statins’ mental health benefits,” in that they seem to affect emotion processing. It remains unclear exactly how statins could protect against mental illness, but one possibility is that they may work through anti-inflammatory mechanisms, which have also been implicated in depression.

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 should prioritize investigating the possible use of statins as a preventative intervention for depression. Before use in clinical practice, it is important that future research confirms the potential psychological benefits of statins through controlled, randomized clinical trials,” Dr. Gillespie concluded.

Reference: “Associations Between Statin Use and Negative Affective Bias During COVID-19: An Observational, Longitudinal UK Study Investigating Depression Vulnerability” by Amy L. Gillespie, Chloe Wigg, Indra Van Assche, Susannah E. Murphy and Catherine J. Harmer, 19 March 2022, Biological Psychiatry.
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.03.009

51 Comments on "Wonder Drug Could Provide Protection Against Depression"

  1. I’m afraid I have to disagree with it. Drugs are a terrible way to fix your depression

    • Tom Riedinger | June 18, 2022 at 7:24 am | Reply

      Medications worked for me quite well. Should I quit taking them and go back to being a depressed zombie? And the whole side effects thing…..the side effect of major depression is suicide. Think about it. There are consequences to every choice we make. I choose living even with some “side effects”.

  2. Statins are harmful drugs despite what Big Pharma wants you to think. Do the research before going on these meds.
    If you have low grade depression, exercise will fire up your brain better than any drug.

    • Tom Riedinger | June 18, 2022 at 7:32 am | Reply

      If statins help prevent hypertension and strokes in vulnerable patients then the side effects are a non-issue. Do you know anyone who has had a stroke? It Ain’t pretty and can be fatal, or leave you in a vegetative state. Completely dependent on care in a nursing home. Wasting away while consuming all of your hard earned savings. These are the side effects of NOT taking these meds if you have untreated hypertension.

  3. Daniel E Culbertson | June 16, 2022 at 4:53 am | Reply

    Exercise is NOT a cure-all for depression, no matter how often people want to claim that it is. I have severe chronic depression going back decades, and I worked out with a personal trainer for an entire YEAR, working out 3 – 4 times per week, and it did not help my depression AT ALL.

    I believe that it does help some people, so it should ways be tried, but I’m sick of people telling my that my antidepressants are bad and all I need is exercise.

    It is not true. People who don’t understand depression should keep their mouths shut.

    • So true! I have tried everything and at 60 I still have severe unrelenting depression. People who aren’t really in the game should remain silent. Western medicine has saved my life because I’m still alive but every time I hear someone say drugs aren’t the way or just exercise then I know they have never spent weeks laying in bed facing the wall hoping to die. Stay in your lane lightweights. No disrespect intended but do not speak of what you do not know. Adding statins made no difference whatsoever and we can’t try new breakthroughs because insurance companies don’t want to pay.

  4. I think I had seen many medical articles which were talking about drugs like psilocybin & LSD seeming to be highly promising against depression (which are far more overdose-safe drugs than alcohol)!
    Maybe “War on Drugs” is the main cause of all depression problems?

    • Tom Riedinger | June 18, 2022 at 7:38 am | Reply

      Very good! A great documentary is called “Hoffman’s Potion” on you tube. It was made decades ago and they had very good outcomes with their early studies. If something like therapeutic LSD sessions can cure a lifetime alcoholic then it certainly must be researched. The therapeutic nature of the sessions is critical. We can’t and shouldn’t do these drugs by ourselves when depressed.

  5. Russell Burroughs | June 16, 2022 at 8:40 am | Reply

    I have had depression in varying degrees for years. I have been on stations for other conditions for much of that time. I can tell you from personal experience the stations made no difference whatever. In my opinion, the study is flawed.

    • Why would your isolated experience negate a well controlled study? You are being silly.

    • Glenn P. Ordell | June 22, 2022 at 3:26 am | Reply

      Dear Mr. Russell Burroughs,
      With all do respect, you began your comment by stating that you “have had depression in varying degrees for years.”
      You continued your comment by using the term “stations” twice, when referencing an article and data relating to that class of drugs which are often grouped together as “statins”, but never directly utilizing the word “statins.”
      Hence, I began questioning the validity of your comments, thinking that you may have possibly confused two entirely different terms, without ever specifying what you meant when claiming experience with “varying degrees of depression for years.”
      Perhaps you might consider re-writing your comment to more carefully clarify your thoughts.
      I apologize if my implied questions seem inappropriate.

  6. dO THe RiSuRcH! 🤪

  7. To Daniel: I totally agree with you. Going through the same things close to 12 years exercise did not help at all. The medication although helped a lot. Best to you sir!

  8. I take a clinical dose of venlafaxine for balance issues and anxiety and a statin for congenital genetic high cholesterol. Both medications have helped me immensely, lowering my cholesterol dramatically, and allowing me greater quality of life, reduced anxiety. Each person has different biochemistry and genetic susceptibility to medications. It is wrong to dictate to others that they should never take meds. Medications often save lives. Do your research and talk to your doctors. Follow medical advice and be a good patient.

  9. Janeen Weiss, LCSW | June 16, 2022 at 5:19 pm | Reply

    This information is dangerous. Statins are overused and are linked to increased Dementia. Not recognizing angry faces could also be a dangerous thing. Antidepressants don’t even work well and are now linked to serious side effects. Diet, exercise and therapy and a good social support system are the best antidote for depression. The drug companies just want to find another way to increase their profits.

    • @Janeen Weiss, LCSW. Thx for your comment, which reminded me why LCSW after one’s name often means so little. Stay in your lane, you are inniver your head.

      • Some people making dangerous comments about using medications and just trusting your doctors prescribing you these dangerous meds. One person in the comments is telling everyone that says these meds are dangerous that they don’t know what they are talking about but the truth is that the science of antidepressants just doesn’t stand up when actual help in the sense of nutrition, lymphatic system drainage and psilocybin actually makes scientic sense if you truly understand biology. CP, maybe you should learn a bit more about the biology of depression before knocking down anyone who dares speak against big pharma meds

  10. I’m not on this drug but I’m diagnosed with complex PTSD, exercise and all that I’m a very active person and into building and using my mind a lot and I needed medication. when I got the medication it was 100% immediate change I knew it immediately and I will never be able to say that medications don’t help people I don’t think I would want to continue my life now without that help. They do micro dose me and it was like magic, I know about my traumas but no longer have mixed emotions or hurt buy it, was released from my chains and was able perceive life in a whole new lite.

  11. Statins are bad if they are taken long term. They weaken the immune system, cause muscle problems, and have been known to contribute to obesity. They can even cause memory loss among other things. To give these people who suffer from depression is a bad idea.

    • You know what else is bad? Heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. Good studies address these concerns and beat out random personal opinions based on…who knows what.

  12. I suffer from severe depression I’ve tried exercise, diet to many different medications to count. Nothing really helps to relive it. I’m very reluctant to believe this article. Tons of testing and research is needed on statin drugs and side effects

  13. Statins cause me intolerable pain in every fiber of my body. I have major depression to begin with, in part due to chronic neuropathic pain after four decades of fragile diabetes. How will worsening my chronic pain result in anything good at all?

  14. They never stop,. They will use any websites. To promote any drug. The goal is to humanize. And drugs prescription or not,. It’s a billion dollars industry. Most people never needed the useless. Vaccine. But they still made a trillion cash. And killed a million Americans from the side effects

  15. Ah if only this could be true. I developed Major Depressive Disorder after going on stating. And both have remained constants in my life for last 4 – 8 years. I wondered if, since statins acquired their current bad rep, someone isn’t looking to improve their PR???

  16. Statins, also, cause liver cancer and extreme muscle pain similar to fibromyalgia.

  17. Eric M. Jones | June 17, 2022 at 6:06 am | Reply

    WOW! The article was written by writers who NEVER suffered from this black dog. Depression is not just feeling blue. Read “Darkness Visible” by William Styron for a more complete view. Even then, you know nothing about it if you haven’t suffered it, because as Styron pointed out–some things exceed the ability of words to describe.

    I’d go with a microglial virus for a start.

  18. Every person is different
    .. body chemistry …their depression …their life so one person can’t say that it’s a bunch of crap JUST because it didn’t work for YOU
    I’ve had depression since my first child I was a happy happy person never depressed anything so anything can trigger it …. I WORK OUT STILL TO THIS DAY I still have my issues sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t…so for those of you that are saying don’t do this do …do that instead …is a bunch of crap…. you’re not the doctor and you’re not the person getting the treatment yes I know everybody’s entitled to their own opinion… so don’t make others feel lower or less because YOU say it doesn’t work

  19. “[…]a small group were either taking only statins (4%), only a different class of anti-hypertension medication[…]”

    FYI, statins are not antihypertensives, they are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

  20. I really don’t like the sound of this. The regonition of other’s emotions (especially fear and anger) are a base survival function. Dulling it down is not only dangerous but pointless. This will impaire empathy, not cure depression.

    • Tom Riedinger | June 18, 2022 at 7:43 am | Reply

      Liam I don’t think angry faces turned into happy faces. It is much more subtle. A “slightly” angry face would become less so. It is in the nature of depression that we paint everything in our lives with a negative brush. If that paint is “thinned out”
      then a positive result is more likely to occur.

  21. This is interesting “news” that comes just in time for the “great reset” where you will eat ze bugs, jack off in a pod, have a virtual baby, plug into the VR all day, and your travel in your electric car on the smart grid will be regulated by your complian– er, social credit score. You will be “vaccinated” (drugged), poisoned, irradiated, and chipped for tracking. No wonder humans are chronically depressed. And no wonder they tout this “miracle prevention method” at such convenient timing. What an age we live in….

  22. Well time sitting not going to help your depression either

  23. I’ve had severe depression for years which led me to a horrible alcohol addiction for YEARS! Took me years and too many detoxes to count to get sober. I Lost a 17 year position at Yale University, my 3 young boys at the time went to live with their Dad with whom I’m divorced from after 14 years of marriage (my choice as it wasn’t fair to them). Lived In my car with a severe “H” drug addict who stole everything. I could go on and on. ONLY By GOD’S saving grace, I’ve been sober for 9 years. I’m Still suffering from severe depression and for me just getting in the shower is an accomplishment let alone exercise. If that’s what works for You, great! But in the kindest way I say…read the article and move along WITHOUT your comments. What works for you, DOESN’T work for others and there’s plenty of negativity in the world already! For years I’ve tried so many medications, TMS, talk therapy, hypnosis, etc. but NOTHING works. I’ve missed and wasted so much of my son’s lives, it sucks! I’m on to SPRAVATO. One treatment so far but I just started a new job and can’t start taking time off. But I’ll somehow find a way. Max dose of Zoloft for 7 years and wellbutrin for 1 year, and I’m still miserable. Good luck everyone! Jesus loves you so pray. You need childlike faith of a mustard seed. I’m confident it’ll work…on HIS time! Stay blessed!🙏

    • Keep up the good fight, Sgm. Thanks for sharing your personal path. You sound strong. 💪(even if you don’t feel that way). Prayers for you!!!

  24. Drugs can be talked about in subcategories. There is also herbs and wholistic medicine

  25. To every one taking antidepressants, is there one that works better than the others for you? I’m on Effexor, I’m not impressed. Thanks!

    • Tom Riedinger | June 18, 2022 at 7:20 am | Reply

      Hello Sapphire. Each of us humans is unique, even identical twins have differences. There is no “magic” cure that works with everyone. If you choose to go the medication route you must realize that what works best for YOU is the goal. Try the meds your doctor prescribes and give each one a chance. If there are negative side affects then that one is not right. I have suffered lifelong unremitting depression and have tried almost everything. Prozac worked wonders for a year but loses it’s effect eventually (for me). I have been on Nardil and it seems to have the most positives and the least negatives (for me). Good luck and stay positive! There are many new treatments being discovered and some are not medication-based. There is a new form of TMS that has wonderful and fast acting results, although it’s in the clinical trials stages.

  26. These medications put me into a deep depression. I was to the point of putting a gun to my head. I’ve never had issues with depression before. My husband had similar side-effects. They almost destroyed our marriage and lives. All three of my doctors said they were not aware of depression being an issue or other mental issues with them. The more people I talked to about statins had the same issues. So I have trouble believing that it will be useful a preventing depression.

  27. @Janeen Weiss, LCSW. Thx for your comment, which reminded me why LCSW after one’s name often means so little. Stay in your lane, you are inniver your head.

  28. So many people will be surprised how being deficient in certain minerals and vitamin will trigger depression. I had an overload of heavy metal in my body that depleted me of everything which triggered clinical hypothyroidism which give you clinical depression among other things. I refused to take any Rx meds till this day. I’m healing through herbs and supplements. Find a holistic doctor an get tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I know also depression (mental illness) can be hereditary. Research lithium ortate.
    Be blessed

  29. …talk about feeding a multi-billion dollar industry with NO evidence to support its efficacy. Thank you, no.

  30. Jessica Butler | June 18, 2022 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    What a joke. I have a friend who is in deep depression because of the side effects that she got from the statins. Her legs are weak and will never again be the same. Ridiculous article

  31. I wouldn’t take a medication at all if I didn’t have to. Some people can recover from depression without medication, perhaps one day I will be able to, all I can say is that the medication I am taking now has saved my life and keeps me from being completely disabled and debilitated from severe depression. Sure exercise is helpful, but one can be so severely depressed that it’s just not possible and even when it is, it’s just not enough. So many people don’t understand how many factors contribute to the symptoms of depression, and it’s not a matter of something the person suffering isn’t doing anymore than saying someone with cancer just needs exercise. It’s a little more complicated than that

  32. I’ve been depressed all my adult life and I’m 62 now. I can function but very sad! I need help before it’s too late. I’m tired

  33. I agree that everyone’s body chemistry is different. I did a mouth swab test to determine the best antidepressant for me with my genes. Also, exercise is proven to produce endorphins to help elevate mood but how much is needed to produce results is individualized. But my real freedom was discovering that little by little I can learn to control my thoughts by renewing my mind by meditating on God’s word and leaning on God for help and support. Phil.4:13, Ps.71:16 “I walk in the strength of the Lord,” Amen. I tried and failed at everything but then I met Him– the one true Living God, in the personhood of Jesus Christ. By the way I a was diagnosed with severe, major clinical depression with psychotic features when the depression became super high. So there by the grace of God go I. To Him be the glory 4-ever!

  34. Stephanie Finney | June 20, 2022 at 10:44 am | Reply

    Many commenting about dangerous medicines. Depression, like heart disease, IS A DISEASE! Not a character flaw. We cannot exercise it away. To those of you that state “do your research before you take any drug, I suggest YOU do research on depression before commenting. I recommend NAMI. (National Alliance for Mental Illness.) You wouldn’t tell someone who has Cancer to exercise for mild cancer. Depression, or any mental illness is no different. I apologize if I appear rude, but I’ve listened to this kind of talk for 40 years. Five Psych Ward Hospitalizations, & 2 suicide attempts The most recent one in 2013, I almost died. ICU for 3 days, then another Judge sends me off for another extended “Stay-cation”. It hurts when people behave as if I brought this on myself. I hate living with this, but I must. Always. I have Bi-Polar 1 with rapid cycling of depression & mania. I’ve lost a lot of relationships, jobs, & a 30 year marriage because of an Illness that still is stigmatized. Please google NAMI. Please. And empathize. Thank you

  35. People who have treatment resistant depression should look into psilocybin, Google search it, it’s in phase 3 trials right now and seems to be quite effective for many people, long lasting after a single dose too.

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