Washington: Indulging in chocolate may help
lift one`s mood, but a new study has claimed those who have
insatiable craving for it might be suffering from depression.
The University of California study found that people who
score high on a screening test for depression consume more
chocolate than others and the consumption increased with the
severity of the condition.
However, the connection to mood appears to be specific to
chocolate and there was no association between depression and
other food components that might affect mood, the researchers
"Our study confirms long-held suspicions that eating
chocolate is something that people do when they are feeling
down," said lead researcher Beatrice Golomb of the University
of California`s San Diego School of Medicine.
The study only points out that there is a link between
overindulgence of chocolate and depression, but it cannot be
explained why. Since the participants were not followed over
time, the researchers don`t know whether eating chocolate
ameliorates or amplifies a sad mood, LiveScience reported.
The possibilities are many -- from using chocolate as a
sort of natural Prozac to the idea that chocolate might have
some role in driving depression, according to the study,
appeared in Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal of the
American Medical Association.
For their study, the researchers looked at about 930
people, about 70 percent men and 30 percent women, who were
not taking antidepressants.
The participants completed a depression screening survey
and answered questions related to their chocolate consumption.
Those with scores that indicated they were possibly
depressed ate an average of 8.4 one-ounce servings of
chocolate per month, while those with lower scores ate an
average of 5.4 servings per month.
And those with the highest scores, possibly an indication
of major depression, ate an average of 11.8 servings per
Several hypotheses might explain the results, but all are
speculative at this point. If chocolate really does boost
mood, people who are depressed might eat chocolate as a
self-treatment for their depression, the researchers said.
Chocolate does contain ingredients that can act as
stimulants, which are known to elevate mood. However, these
ingredients are present at quite low concentrations, which
some feel are too low to cause an effect, they said.
Also, chocolate ingredients may boost production of
"pleasure hormones" such as serotonin. Ingredients in
chocolate could cause inflammation in the body, which might be
responsible for both chocolate cravings and depression.
While chocolate itself might cause a mood boost, certain
other ingredients added to chocolate during production, such
as artificial trans fats, could worsen mood and so balance out
or even reverse the mood benefits, the researcher said.
Future studies are needed to determine how chocolate
affects mood, and whether or not chocolate directly influences
depression, they added.