The Oxford University led population-based longitudinal study, included 1,149,384 individuals, of whom 1,015, 949 (84 per cent) were aged 50 years and older. The study period looked at data from January 2006 to December 2013 and used Swedish nationwide registers, which identified people who were dispensed statins, i.e. had filled in prescriptions, and were aged 15 years or older.
The investigation also found a reduced rate of depression in those prescribed statins, which requires further research to understand.
Professor Seena Fazel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said,
Statins are very widely used medications in the general population, and it is important to carefully investigate possible long-term effects. We have done this with regard to common neuropsychiatric outcomes, and found no increased associations. We also found a reduction in depression in those taking statins, although can’t be certain if this is caused by the statins, or indirectly through improved adherence with all medications and more regular contacts with healthcare. This apparent protective effect needs further examination.
The study looked at rates of these neuropsychiatric outcomes (new episodes of suicidal behaviours, depression, anxiety or seizures) when people were prescribed the statins compared to the same individuals when they were not. It found that the rates of suicidal behaviour or suicide death, anxiety disorder and seizures were unchanged. In the study, 23,745 people (2.1 per cent) had a new episode of depression during the follow-up period of up to 8 years, with a 9 per cent reduction in new outpatient or inpatient contacts for depression when they were taking statins, compared to when they were not. The authors found evidence of reduced associations with depression when the sample of people were dispensed other medications, such as antihistamines and diuretics.
Funding for this study has been received from the Wellcome Trust, Swedish Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Professorship, NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Karolinska Institutet.
To read the full paper, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, Associations between statin use and suicidality, depression, anxiety, and seizures: a Swedish total-population cohort study.