Sun Jae Jung

Visiting Scientist

Department of Epidemiology

Sun  Jae Jung, MD, PhD, is a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Sun Jae completed her MD from Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea and received her professional qualification in Preventive Medicine from Seoul National University College of Medicine. Sun Jae holds a PhD in Epidemiology from Seoul National University, Korea. Her major research interest is the epidemiology of mental diseases such as PTSD, depression and sleep disorders. In her PhD thesis, Sun Jae examined the association of lifetime body mass index and depression in later life. She has published studies on evaluating potential risk factors for depression including lifetime estrogen exposure, smoking and body weight. Sun Jae’s current research focuses on the bi-directional association between CVD/endocrinal/reproductive factors and her work includes examining PTSD in Nurses’ Health Study II and the Growing Up Today Study. Additionally, Sun Jae focuses on the interaction between biological and social factors in suicide attempts.

You can also find her information in following Yerby post-doctoral fellowship web page:

yerby page (old)

Being skinny linked to depression

The association between body size, weight change and depression has not been systematically summarised, especially for individuals who are underweight.
We aimed to conduct a systematic review and a meta-analysis to examine the association between indices of body size, weight change and depression.

A total of 183 studies were selected. Fully adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) or odds ratios (ORs) were extracted. A total of 76 studies contributed to data synthesis with a random-effect model, and subgroup analyses were conducted to evaluate the effect of potential moderators.
In cohort studies, underweight at baseline increased the risk of subsequent depression (OR = 1.16, 95% CI 1.08–1.24). Overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) showed no statistically significant relationship with depression overall; however, the subgroup analyses found different results according to gender (men: OR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.72–0.97, women: OR = 1.16, 95% CI 1.07–1.25). In cross-sectional designs, obesity with BMI >40 kg/m2 showed a greater pooled odds ratio than obesity with BMI >30 kg/m2.

Both underweight and obesity increase the risk of depression. The association between overweight and depression differs by gender.

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Longer reproductive years are protective for depression

Although there are plausible mechanisms of female hormones in depression, epidemiological evidence has shown conflicting results.
This study aimed to evaluate the associations between female hormonal events and post-menopausal depression and further investigate the relative association between the age of menarche, the age of menopause and depression.
Among 111,589 women who took part in the Health Examinees (HEXA) Study, a total of 60,114 postmenopausal participants were included in the final analysis. Each participant provided information on depression and questions related to reproductive history. The outcome variable was self-reported by the history of depression diagnosed by physicians and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) score. With the multivariate logistic regression, odds ratios were calculated. Possible interactions between depression prevalence and the ages of menarche and menopause were assessed.
A total of 2.2% (1342/60,114) women were diagnosed with depression after menopause, and 5.9% (500/8472) showed depressive symptoms. As the age of menopause and duration of reproductive years increased, the odds ratio of depression decreased (P-trend<0.001)
For limitation, it is possible that women show inaccuracies in recalling their hormonal events and reporting other past mental disorders as depression.
Both the ages of the initiation and the termination of menstruation were associated with the increased odds ratio of post-menopausal depression. However, the age of menopause seems to be more important.
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