Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Pay attention to your diet when you are depressed

One of the clinical symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder is loss of appetite.  Sometimes the appetite loss is so extreme that people loose significant amounts of weight.  A key feature of the loss of appetite is that food becomes less appealing, less tasty and therefore less of a motivator to eat.  For some teens who experience Major Depressive Disorder they even can’t be bothered eating their favorite foods, such as pizza or chicken wings.  However, one thing that we do not know very much about is whether this loss of appetite has an effect on nutrition. 

A recent study (Davidson and Kaplan, BMC Psychiatry, 2012) evaluated the nutritional status of self-reported diets in people who were Depressed.  The results showed some interesting differences compared to existing population information about diet.  People suffering from depression ate significantly fewer amounts of: grains, vegetables and fruit and some macronutrients.  They also ate significantly larger amounts of: processed meats; sugar; fat; salt. 

So what does this mean?  Actually I do not really know.  It likely does not mean that the diet caused or is perpetuating the Depression.  Is the diet helping the Depression?  That we can also not answer.  Does this mean that people who are experiencing a Depression should pay extra attention to their nutrition?  That seems to me to be a reasonable thing to do.


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