Having a bit of chocolate when you’re down is something just about everyone has done at some point in their life. But a new study shows that those people who demonstrate signs of depression tend to eat 50% more chocolate than those who don’t.
The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at 931 men and women, none of whom were taking antidepressants. Researchers asked them how much chocolate they consumed on a regular basis and also measured their level of depression.
What they found was that the subjects who were diagnosed with depression were eating an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate each month, while those who were not depressed at only 5.4 servings per month. And those demonstrating the highest levels of depression consumed around 11.8 servings of chocolate per month.
The researchers also tested depressed subjects who were on antidepressants at the time and found that they ate the same amount as those who were not on medication.
In spite of the stereotype of the sad woman who craves chocolate, the study found that gender was not an issue.
Also, of the foods included in the study — fish, coffee, caffeine, fruits and vegetables — researchers only saw a difference between depressed and non-depressed subjects when it came to chocolate consumption.
Researchers say more study is needed to pinpoint the reason for the link between chocolate in depression, saying it could be anything from a form of self-medicating to an actual cause of depression.
One expert who wasn’t part of the study, Dr. Lorrin Loran of Stanford University, has this to say:
It is available, cheap, does not lose its pleasure-inducing quality with repeated use, does not require relating to other people and is culturally approved as a source of legitimate pleasure, he said.
‘I strongly doubt that chocolate either induces depression or interferes with recovery from depression,’ Koran said. ‘If either idea were true, this would long ago have become obvious given the ubiquitous use of the substance over the last 500 years.’
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed [U.S. News & World Report]