Metabolic Syndrome Makes It Hard to Treat Depression

Causes Medications

A study published on December 13, 2017 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society says that having metabolic syndrome may make it more difficult to treat depression in older adults.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of certain symptoms, including excess abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  It is known to increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The Study

According to the study authors, older adults who have depression are generally at a greater risk of having poor general health or even dying.   This is due to the fact that depression makes it harder to think, make decisions and manage own’s own care.

Previous research has shown a link between metabolic syndrome and longer duration of depression.  The researchers wanted to study whether having this condition affected how well older people responded to depression medication.

The study included 222 people 60 year of age or older who had metabolic syndrome as well as depression (determined by two separate assessments).  Their average age was 69.1.

The study participants were treated with an extended-release formulation of an antidepressant called venlafaxine.  If their depression scores were still high after six weeks, their dose was raised.  They were followed up every one to two weeks; and, they were once again evaluated for depression at the twelve-week point.

The Study’s Findings

During the course of the study, 182 people experienced complete remission of their symptoms.

Among the important findings in the study:

  • People with metabolic syndrome tended to have a history of chronic depression.
  • Depression symptoms were more severe at the beginning of the study.
  • Those with metabolic syndrome took longer to respond to the antidepressant.

Another important finding was that higher diastolic blood pressure was associated with a longer response time.  The study authors believe that this association should be given further study.  Other factors, such as insulin sensitivity, were not linked to the length of response time.

Your diastolic blood pressure is the second number in your blood pressure reading.  For example, if your blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg, your diastolic pressure is 80.  This number indicates the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is resting between beats.  A diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg is considered to be at risk and a reading above 90 mmHg is considered to be high.

Recommendations for Metabolic Syndrome

The researchers suggest that, based on their results, older adults with metabolic syndrome should be watched closely by their healthcare providers so that their depression can be detected and treated in a timely manner.

If you are currently diagnosed by your physician as having metabolic syndrome, it is important for you to be aware that it may take longer for you to respond to antidepressants.  You should speak with your doctor if you have any questions about your own depression treatment plan.

Nancy Schimelpfening, MS

Nancy Schimelpfening is the founder of Depression Sanctuary. Unless otherwise stated, all of the content on Depression Sanctuary is written by and maintained by Nancy. Nancy has a master’s degree in community health education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She was the (now expert on depression from 1998-2016. She has also written for other online publications, including Healthline, Health Digest, and MindBodyGreen.