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Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment With Statins: A Case Series


Mood, Personality, and Behavior Changes During Treatment With Statins: A Case Series

Stephanie Cham et al. Drug Saf Case Rep.


Psychiatric adverse drug reactions (ADRs) have been reported with statin use, but the literature regarding statin-associated mood/behavioral changes remains limited. We sought to elicit information germane to natural history and characteristics of central nervous system/behavioral changes in apparent connection with statin and/or cholesterol-lowering drug use, and delineate mechanisms that may bear on an association. Participants (and/or proxies) self-referred with behavioral and/or mood changes in apparent association with statins completed a survey eliciting cholesterol-lowering drug history, character and impact of behavioral/mood effect, time-course of onset and recovery in relation to drug use/modification, co-occurrence of recognized statin-associated ADRs, and factors relevant to ADR causality determination. Naranjo presumptive ADR causality criteria were assessed. Participants (n = 12) reported mood/behavior change that commenced following statin initiation and persisted or progressed with continued use. Reported problems included violent ideation, irritability, depression, and suicide. Problems resolved with drug discontinuation and recurred with rechallenge where attempted. Eight met presumptive criteria for "probable" or "definite" causality; others had additional factors not considered in Naranjo criteria that bear on casual likelihood. (1) Simvastatin 80 mg was followed in 5 days by irritability/depression culminating in suicide in a man in his 40s (Naranjo criteria: possible causality). (2) Simvastatin 10 mg was followed within 2 weeks by depression in a woman in her 50s (probable causality). (3) Atorvastatin 20 mg was followed in ~1 month by depression and irritability/aggression in a male in his 50s (probable causality). (4) Atorvastatin 10 mg was followed in several months by aggression/irritability and depression culminating in suicide in a man in his 40s (possible causality). (5) Fenofibrate + rosuvastatin (unknown dose), later combined with atorvastatin were followed in 1 month by aggression/irritability in a male in his 30s (probable causality). (6) Lovastatin (unknown dose and time-course to reaction) was followed by depression, dyscontrol of bipolar disorder, and suicide attempts in a male in his 40s (possible causality). (7) Atorvastatin 20 mg was followed within 2 weeks by cognitive compromise, and nightmares, depression, and anxiety culminating in suicide in a man in his teens (definite causality). (8) Simvastatin 10 mg was followed (time-course not recalled) by depression, aggression/irritability culminating in suicide in a man in his 60s (possible causality). (9) Simvastatin 20 mg then atorvastatin 10 mg were followed (time-course not provided) by irritability/aggression in a man in his 60s (definite causality). (10) Atorvastatin 10 then 20 then 40 mg were followed shortly after the dose increase by violent ideation and anxiety in a man in his 30s (probable causality). (11) Atorvastatin 20 mg and then simvastatin 20 mg were followed in 2 weeks by aggression/irritability in a man in his 50s (definite causality). (12) Lovastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, and simvastatin at varying doses were followed as quickly as 1 day by aggression, irritability, and violent ideation in a man in his 40s (definite causality). Most had risk factors for statin ADRs, and co-occurrence of other, recognized statin ADRs. ADRs had implications for marriages, careers, and safety of self and others. These observations support the potential for adverse mood and behavioral change in some individuals with statin use, extend the limited literature on such effects, and provide impetus for further investigation into these presumptive ADRs. Potential mechanisms are reviewed, including hypothesized mechanisms related to oxidative stress and bioenergetics.

Conflict of interest statement

Compliance with Ethical Standards Funding The ADR database and survey from which these findings were drawn was funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar Award to Dr. Golomb. We are grateful for individual donations that contributed to that larger research effort. Contributing parties had no role in the design or conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of data; or preparation, review, or approval of this manuscript. Conflict of interest Beatrice A. Golomb, Hayley J. Koslik, and Stephanie Cham have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study. Patient consent Written informed consent was obtained from each participant (or proxy for deceased subjects) for inclusion of their case in this case series.

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