Diet and Depression: Landmark Study Confirms Link Between Diet and Recovery From Major Depression
There’s still a public squeamishness about major depression. The stigma, in fact, is part of the mental disorder itself.
Feelings of shame, guilt and hopelessness are not generally subjects people want to talk about in personal social circles, much less at work or some other professional environment where they might fall prey to biases associated with the condition.
It’s important to remember that major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting more than 16 million adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Researchers in Australia, however, have concluded an important study that proves the link between a healthy diet and recovery from major depression.
“We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression,” said Professor Felice Jacka, director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre where the study was conducted. “This is the case across countries, cultures and age groups, with healthy diets associated with reduced risk and unhealthy diets associated with increased risk for depression.”
What is a Good Diet to Follow to Reduce Depression?
The Deakin’s study focused on the type of day-to-day diet most common in Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Italy and Cyprus. A Mediterranean diet is rich in some of the following ingredients:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Fish and lean red meats
- Olive oil
- Nuts and legumes
Deakin’s Food and Mood Diet and Depression Study Results
The study, published in BMC Medicine, included participants that suffered from major depression.
As part of the research, they were assigned to receive social support, such as counseling and medication, which is known to be helpful in treating depression, or to support from a clinical dietician. The study ran over a three-month period.
- Participants in the dietary support group showed a significant decrease in symptoms related to major depression
- An impressive 33 percent of the dietary support group even experienced total remission of their depressive symptoms
Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist and author of cookbooks, like “The Happiness Diet” and “Fifty Shades of Kale,” hopes this latest study will get the attention of the Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s very exciting to think about how we can use this data to shift public policy,” Dr. Ramsey told CBS New York.
Depression is Linked to Other Issues Too
Depression is linked to a myriad of other diseases, such as addiction to alcohol and drugs. For some people, substance abuse is a way to self-medicate the difficult symptoms of the mental disorder.
Others develop depression as a result of battling addiction. The combination of a mental disorder and addiction is known as a dual-diagnosis or co-occurrring disorder, and regardless of which came first, both disorders create a negative feedback loop.
The results of this study are a potential breakthrough for patients living with major depression and other, related illnesses. Physicians now have solid evidence that a healthy diet in and of itself is yet another type of treatment to help patients recover.
“These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or bodyweight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change. Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms,” said Professor Jacka.
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