Accumulation of Depressive Symptoms and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Ann Behav Med. 2017 Aug;51(4):620-628. doi: 10.1007/s12160-017-9884-2.


Background: The association between depressive symptoms and subclinical atherosclerosis has been inconsistent.

Purpose: We sought to replicate our previous study, which demonstrated a positive relation between depressive symptoms and subclinical atherosclerosis assessed with carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in men, using a newer measurement of carotid IMT and a cumulative loading of depressive symptoms over three follow-ups.

Methods: The sample comprised 996 adults (352 men) aged 30 to 45 years in 2007 from a prospective population-based Finnish sample. The participants completed a modified version of Beck Depression Inventory in 1992, 1997, and 2001. Carotid IMT was assessed with ultrasound in 2001 and 2007. Cardiovascular risk factors (i.e., body mass index, systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and smoking) were measured in childhood (1980) and in adulthood (2007).

Results: We found no association between the accumulative depression index and carotid IMT before or after controlling for the traditional risk factors (all p values ≥0.67). Depressive symptoms did not predict IMT progression over two time points and the highest level of carotid wall thickening. Imputed and non-imputed data sets provided similar results. Results remained the same when men and women were analyzed separately. Additional analyses revealed no significant interactions between depressive symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors (i.e., body mass index and systolic blood pressure) on carotid IMT (all p values >0.15).

Conclusions: The findings of this population-based study did not indicate any direct association between depressive symptoms and carotid IMT in asymptomatic, young adults.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Carotid intima-media thickness; Depression; Psychosomatic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors