Can Diet Affect Depression?

Two recent studies examined the impact of diet on depression. The first looked at diet and prevalence of people developing depression; the second looked at subjects who were already depressed.

DASH Diet and Depression

In one study, researchers found that people who ate vegetables, fruit and whole grains had lower rates of depression over time, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in April.

The study found that people whose diets adhered more closely to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were less likely to develop depression than people who did not closely follow the diet. In addition to fruit and vegetables, the DASH diet recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy products and limits foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar.

“Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression,” said study author Laurel Cherian, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

For the study, 964 participants with an average age of 81 were evaluated yearly for an average of 6.5 years. They were monitored for symptoms of depression, such as being bothered by things that usually didn’t affect them and feeling hopeless about the future. They also filled out questionnaires about how often they ate various foods, and the researchers looked at how closely the participants’ diets followed plans like the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Western diet.


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