Psychological Medicine

Metabolic syndrome and metabolic abnormalities in patients with major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of prevalences and moderating variables

D. Vancampforta1a2 c1, C. U. Corrella3a4, M. Wampersa1, P. Sienaerta1, A. J. Mitchella5a6, A. De Herdta2, M. Probsta1a2, T. W. Scheewea7 and M. De Herta1

a1 University Psychiatric Centre KU Leuven, Kortenberg, Belgium

a2 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium

a3 The Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY, USA

a4 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA

a5 Department of Psycho-oncology, Leicestershire Partnership Trust, Leicester, UK

a6 Department of Cancer and Molecular Medicine, University of Leicester, UK

a7 Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, The Netherlands


Background Individuals with depression have an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome (MetS) is an important risk factor for CVD. We aimed to clarify the prevalence and correlates of MetS in persons with robustly defined major depressive disorder (MDD).

Method We searched Medline, PsycINFO, EMBASE and CINAHL up until June 2013 for studies reporting MetS prevalences in individuals with MDD. Medical subject headings ‘metabolic’ OR ‘diabetes’ or ‘cardiovascular’ or ‘blood pressure’ or ‘glucose’ or ‘lipid’ AND ‘depression’ OR ‘depressive’ were used in the title, abstract or index term fields. Manual searches were conducted using reference lists from identified articles.

Results The initial electronic database search resulted in 91 valid hits. From candidate publications following exclusions, our search generated 18 studies with interview-defined depression (n = 5531, 38.9% male, mean age = 45.5 years). The overall proportion with MetS was 30.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) 26.3–35.1] using any standardized MetS criteria. Compared with age- and gender-matched control groups, individuals with MDD had a higher MetS prevalence [odds ratio (OR) 1.54, 95% CI 1.21–1.97, p = 0.001]. They also had a higher risk for hyperglycemia (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.03–1.73, p = 0.03) and hypertriglyceridemia (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.04–1.30, p = 0.008). Antipsychotic use (p < 0.05) significantly explained higher MetS prevalence estimates in MDD. Differences in MetS prevalences were not moderated by age, gender, geographical area, smoking, antidepressant use, presence of psychiatric co-morbidity, and median year of data collection.

Conclusions The present findings strongly indicate that persons with MDD are a high-risk group for MetS and related cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. MetS risk may be highest in those prescribed antipsychotics.

(Received July 01 2013)

(Revised August 15 2013)

(Accepted October 14 2013)

(Online publication November 21 2013)

Key words

  • Depression;
  • dislipidemia;
  • hyperglycemia;
  • metabolic syndrome;
  • obesity


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr D. Vancampfort, University Psychiatric Centre KU Leuven, Campus Kortenberg, Leuvensesteenweg 517, 3070 Kortenberg, Belgium. (Email: