The aim of this study is to characterize the relationship between major depression and the metabolic syndrome in a large community based sample of Australian men and women aged 26-90 years. A lifetime history of major depression was assessed by telephone interview following the DSM-III-R. A current history of metabolic syndrome was assessed following the United States National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP AP-III) guidelines 1 to 3 years later. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association between depression and the metabolic syndrome, and its component criteria, controlling for age, sex and alcohol dependence. There was no association between a lifetime history of major depression and the presence of the metabolic syndrome. There was a weak association between depression and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol but not with other component criteria of the metabolic syndrome. Despite calls for interventions directed at depression to reduce the onset of the metabolic syndrome there are important failures to replicate in large samples such as this, no consensus regarding the threshold at which depression may pose a significant risk even allowing for heterogeneity across populations, and no consensus regarding confounders that may explain inter-study differences. The absence of any dosage effect of depression on the associated risk for the metabolic syndrome in other unselected samples does not support a direct causal relationship. The call for intervention studies on the basis of the currently published evidence base is unwarranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-358
Number of pages12
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Depressive disorder
  • Major
  • Metabolic syndrome


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