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Stress. 1999 Aug;3(1):1-15. doi: 10.3109/10253899909001108.

Melancholic depression and abdominal fat distribution: a mini-review.

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St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin 3, Ireland.


Fat is stored around the abdomen in both subcutaneous and intra abdominal (visceral) sites. Visceral fat is associated in its own right with a set of metabolic abnormalities, including non insulin dependent diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemias. States of marked hypercortisolaemia, for example Cushing's syndrome, lead to the preferential accumulation of visceral fat. Since melancholic depression is known to be associated with elevated plasma Cortisol levels, this review explores whether depressed patients are prone to excess visceral fat storage, with the subsequent risk of developing the associated metabolic disturbances. Though the literature is limited, there is evidence that intra abdominal fat is increased in major depression. There is also evidence that depression is associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Is visceral fat and its association with metabolic abnormalities the link between depression and physical illness?

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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