Chocolate has long had a reputation as the ultimate comfort food, and a study confirms that individuals who are depressed eat more of it. Researchers did a cross-sectional study of 931 men and women who were not taking antidepressant medication. The participants were screened for depression using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale and asked about the frequency and amount of their chocolate consumption.

Those with CES-D scores of 22 or higher—indicating major depressive symptoms—consumed almost 12 1-oz servings of chocolate per month. Those with milder depression, indicated by a score of 16 to 21, ate about eight servings per month, and those with few depressive symptoms (CES-D scores of less than 16) ate just five servings per month.

While the study indicates that people do eat chocolate when they're down, it did not examine why. Animal studies suggest that chocolate can boost mood, so it may be a form of self-treatment.

A physiological element could promote both depression and chocolate cravings. But it is also unclear whether chocolate actually relieves depression or intensifies it. Future studies are required to determine the basis of this association.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, Volume 170, page 699, April 26, 2010

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Published: 20 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013