Open Access Research article

The impact of statins on psychological wellbeing: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Adrienne O'Neil12*, Livia Sanna13, Cassie Redlich4, Kristy Sanderson5, Felice Jacka16, Lana J Williams16, Julie A Pasco7 and Michael Berk1689

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

2 School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

3 Unit of Psychiatry, Neuroscience Mental Health and Sensory Organs Department (NeSMOS), Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy

4 Masters Programme in Public Health, Department of Clinical Sciences, Social Medicine and Global Health, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

5 Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

6 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

7 Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

8 ORYGEN Research Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

9 Mental Health Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Medicine 2012, 10:154  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-154

Published: 3 December 2012



Cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial for treating depression and improving mood. However, evidence regarding their effects remains inconsistent, with some studies reporting links to mood disturbances. We aimed to conduct a meta-analysis to determine the impact of statins on psychological wellbeing of individuals with or without hypercholesterolemia.


Articles were identified using medical, health, psychiatric and social science databases, evaluated for quality, and data were synthesized and analyzed in RevMan-5 software using a random effects model.


The 7 randomized controlled trials included in the analysis represented 2,105 participants. A test for overall effect demonstrated no statistically significant differences in psychological wellbeing between participants receiving statins or a placebo (standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.08, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.12; P = 0.42). Sensitivity analyses were conducted to separately analyze depression (n = 5) and mood (n = 2) outcomes; statins were associated with statistically significant improvements in mood scores (SMD = -0.43, 95% CI -0.61 to -0.24).


Our findings refute evidence of negative effects of statins on psychological outcomes, providing some support for mood-related benefits. Future studies could examine the effects of statins in depressed populations.

anti-inflammatory; cytokines; depression; hypercholesterolemia; mood; oxidative; statins