Is the Cholesterol Medication Prescribed to CKD Patients Directly Responsible For Depression?

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Statins prescribed to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients for cholesterol reduction may actually cause depression, a very recently published study finds. Since cholesterol plays an important role in protecting against brain injury (neuroprotection), low cholesterol may disrupt the communication between neurons (neurotransmission), thereby increasing the risk of depression. Previously it was believed that those who took statins were less likely to suffer depression, anxiety, and hostility than people who used them intermittently or not at all. However, later findings demonstrated that CKD patients may be more vulnerable to depression, violence, or suicide during the first month of statin use, with a reduction in risk following that initial period. This most recent study challenges this idea and suggests that depression risk may increase with long-term statin use.

Recommended Reading: Why Your Cholesterol Medication May Not be Effective if You are an ESRD Patient

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in CKD patients so many with CKD take prescribed statin medication to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and inflammation. Cholesterol is a wax-like substance that in high levels can block the arteries and reduce blood circulation to the heart which can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is also necessary, however, to assists neurological function and low cholesterol may lead to disruptions in the serotonin system leading to depression. Serotonin is the hormone that regulates a person's growth, reproductive ability and mood.

High levels of serotonin make a person feel very good, while low levels can create a feeling of anxiety and sadness. It is also possible that low cholesterol contributes to depression by disrupting neurosteroid production which play a critical role in controlling anxiety and depression.  

Recommended Reading; The Odds Of Receiving A Kidney Transplant After Suffering A Heart Attack? Strategies You Can Adopt

The study did not specify a "cutoff point," when you should discuss stopping statin medications with your Nephrologist based on low cholesterol levels. However, if your cholesterol is "extremely" low and you are continually experiencing severe depression, recommends that you talk to your Nephrologist about this and follow their recommendations. DO NOT STOP taking your prescribed statin medication before consulting your Nephrologist! The risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke are real. If you attempt to self diagnose you may cause yourself more harm. You should monitor your cholesterol numbers and note any mood disturbances as they fall and discuss the matter with your healthcare team, including your Social Worker to determine the best options for you.  If you are currently experiencing  severe depressive tendencies bring it to the immediate attention of your Nephrologist at the earliest possible opportunity.

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 "The Relationship between Statins and Depression: A Review of the Literature." US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 

"Statins and Depression: Too Much of a Good Thing?" MPR

"Statins, Cholesterol Drugs, May Cause Depression and Anxiety." HBC Protocols.

"Statins Can Stop Depression." Prevention.