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The Relationship Between Depression and Serum Ferritin Level

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By M V Shariatpanaahi, et al. • • April 6, 2007

[Note: Ferritin is the protein that stores iron in the body. Ferritin levels correlate directly with the amount of iron in the body, though low levels of ferritin in the blood (serum) may precede iron deficiency. Low ferritin levels have previously been associated with symptoms of restless leg syndrome even in the absence of anemia. Iron is important for red blood cell production.]

Journal: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 532–535.

Authors and affiliations: M Vahdat Shariatpanaahi, Z Vahdat Shariatpanaahi, M Moshtaaghi, S H Shahbaazi and A Abadi. Correspondence to Dr. Z Vahdat Shariatpanaahi, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Nutrition and Food Industry, Farahzadi, Tehran, Iran. [E-mail: ]


Objective: This study looks at the association of depression and serum ferritin level.

Design: Case–control study.

Setting: University hospital.

Subjects: Two hundred and five female medical students of Free University of Medical Sciences in Tehran were selected for the study (mean age; 24.5 1.6 years). Of these, 13 subjects were excluded and finally 192 subjects took part in the study.

Interventions: A questionnaire was filled in by each participant for the diagnosis of depression to be made. Based on the Beck score, the students were grouped as depressed and healthy (67 depressed students and 125 healthy controls). The participants were evaluated in terms of hemoglobin (Hgb) level, serum ferritin, ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), CRP (C-reactive protein), folic acid, vitamin B12 and Hgb simultaneously.

Results: The prevalence of depression in the study population was 34.7%. The mean ferritin level in students with depression was significantly lower than the healthy ones (P<0.001). [The probability that this finding could result by chance is less than 1 in 100.] By changing the status from normal ferritin level to low ferritin level, odds of depression was increased by 1.92 (P<0.05).

Conclusion: The study implies a possible association between depression and decreased ferritin level before the occurrence of anemia.

Sponsorship: Free University of Medical Sciences.

Keywords: depression, Beck questionnaire, ferritin, iron deficiency, logistic regression

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