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Previous reports have suggested that depression may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease through its association with the metabolic syndrome; however, little is known about the relationship between depression and the metabolic syndrome. The aim of this study was to establish an association between depression and the metabolic syndrome in a nationally representative sample.The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a population-based health survey of noninstitutionalized US citizens completed between 1988 and 1994. Three thousand one hundred eighty-six men and 3003 women, age 17 to 39, free of coronary heart disease and diabetes, completed the depression module from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule and a medical examination that provided clinical data needed to establish the presence of the metabolic syndrome, as defined by the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Cholesterol in Adults.Women with a history of a major depressive episode were twice as likely to have the metabolic syndrome compared with those with no history of depression. The relationship between depression and metabolic syndrome remained after controlling for age, race, education, smoking, physical inactivity, carbohydrate consumption, and alcohol use. Men with a history of depression were not significantly more likely to have the metabolic syndrome.The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is elevated among women with a history of depression. It is important to better understand the role depression may play in the effort to reduce the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its health consequences.