(HealthDay News) – Elevated plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) are associated with psychological distress and depression in the general population, according to a study published online Dec. 24 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Marie Kim Wium-Andersen, MD, from Herlev Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues used cross-sectional and prospective data from 73,131 men and women (aged 20–100 years) participating in two general population studies to assess CRP levels in four clinically relevant categories. Self-reports were used to ascertain psychological distress, while depression was ascertained by self-reported antidepressant use, register-based data on antidepressant prescriptions, and hospitalizations for depression.

In cross-sectional analyses, the researchers found that increasing levels of CRP correlated with significantly increasing risk for psychological distress and depression. Compared with a CRP level of 0.01–1.00mg/L, for levels of 1.01–3.00mg/L, 3.01–10.00mg/L, and >10.00mg/L, the odds ratios for self-reported use of antidepressants were 1.38, 2.02, and 2.70, respectively. The corresponding odds ratios for prescription of antidepressants were 1.08, 1.47, and 1.77. For hospitalization with depression, the corresponding odds ratios were 1.30, 1.84, and 2.27. Increasing CRP levels correlated with increasing risk for hospitalization for depression in prospective analyses.

“Elevated levels of CRP were associated with an increased risk for psychological distress and depression in cross-sectional analyses and for hospitalization with depression in prospective analyses,” the authors write.

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