Lower Skeletal Muscle Mass Associated With Depressive Symptoms in Men

Low skeletal muscle mass may independently be associated with symptoms of depression in men but not in women, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

This study included 1151 men and 2176 women between the ages of 30 and 64, all of whom filled out questionnaires and were assessed for appendicular skeletal muscle mass adjusted for height squared (ASM/Ht2). Men who were in the lower and middle vs upper ASM/Ht2 tertile groups showed more symptoms of depression. Incremental decreases of 1 kg/m2 in men were strongly correlated with symptoms of depression, but no similar correlation was observed in premenopausal or postmenopausal women.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to measure appendicular skeletal muscle mass, which was evaluated as the total mass of muscle in all 4 limbs. The study researchers included both continuous values and tertile sets in their analysis. The Beck Depressive Inventory-II was used to classify symptoms of depression, with a score ≥20 indicating a significant degree of depressive symptoms.

Study limitations included the fact that skeletal mass and symptoms of depression were evaluated only once, utilizing bioelectrical impedance analysis to determine skeletal muscle mass, a cross-sectional study architecture, and the use of self-reporting to gauge depressive symptoms. 

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“Our findings suggest that the maintenance of appropriate skeletal muscle mass may decrease the risk of depressive symptoms in middle-aged Korean men,” concluded the study authors. 


Heo JE, Shim JS, Song BM, et al. Association between appendicular skeletal muscle mass and depressive symptoms: review of the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases etiology research center cohort [published online May 15, 2018]. J Affect Disord. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.05.012