Consumption rises alongside levels of depression, study finds
MONDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Could the depressed be "self-medicating" with chocolate? A new study finds that people battling depression reach for more of the sweet treat than non-depressed folks do.
Many people believe that "when they are feeling a little bit down, chocolate makes them feel better," said lead researcher Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, an associate professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
Chocolate does appear to be popular among people with depression, whether or not they are being treated with antidepressants, the research team found. "A lot of us may have been able to predict this finding," Golomb said.
For the study, published in the April 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the UCSD team looked at the relationship between chocolate and mood in 931 women and men who were not taking antidepressants.
The participants were asked how much chocolate they ate, and their level of depression was measured on a standard depression scale.
People diagnosed as depressed ate an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate each month compared with 5.4 servings among people who were not depressed, the researchers found.
The most depressed ate the most chocolate -- around 11.8 servings a month, the team discovered.
These findings were the same for men and women.
When the researchers looked at people who were taking medication for depression, they found these people ate chocolate at the same rate as those with untreated depression, according to Golomb.
No difference was noted regarding consumption of other foods, such as fish, coffee, caffeine or fruits and vegetables, between the depressed and non-depressed people, the researchers found. The difference seemed to be isolated to chocolate, they said.
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