Depression May Be Linked To Specific Lipid Ratios Within The Body

Joyce Chen ’23

Figure 1: Lipid levels in the body contribute to causing depression due to abnormal metabolic syndromes.

Depression is a chronic disease that affects quality of life by reducing one’s interest in basic activities and hobbies due to continual feelings of sadness and low self-esteem. Previous studies have proposed that low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels play a key role in depression because of changes in serotonin and lipid metabolism. There is little research on how depression is affected by lipid ratio. Thus, Dr. A Lum Han of Wonkwang University Hospital hoped to study the relationship between depression and three different lipid ratios in his research study. 

Dr. Han studied 11,648 male and female participants and screened them for depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) diagnostic questionnaire. A PHQ-9 score that is higher than 10 is classified as depression, while scores below 10 are not indicative of depression. About 3.7% of male participants scored higher than 10, while 6.8% of female participants scored higher than 10. The following three lipid ratios were assessed in participants:, total cholesterol (TC/HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDC-C/HDL-C), and elevated triglyceride (TG/HDL-C) levels. It was found that the likelihood of depression among the men was 10.41 times higher in those who reported high levels of stress. Based on a chi-square test and other statistical analyses, an increase in TG/HDL-C by a factor of 1 correlated with a 1.041-fold increase in the likelihood of depression. For females, depression was 12.034 times higher in those who had higher stress levels. However, there was no association between TG/HDL-C and depression in women. Both TC/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C had no correlation with depression in both the male and female participants. Overall, the results of Dr. Han’s study showcase how TG/HDL-C is positively associated with depression in men. 

Dr. Han’s research is one of the first studies that looks into the relationship between specific lipid ratios and depression. The results show how TC/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C seem to have no links to depression. However, future studies are needed to see if these results were caused by the sample size or the experimental design. 

Works Cited: 

[1] A. Han, et al., Association between lipid ratio and depression: a cross-sectional study. Sci Rep 12, 6190 (2022). Doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10350-5

[2] Image retrieved from:


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