Chocolate is a comfort food, there’s no getting around it. Many of us find ourselves reaching for a Hershey bar on a down day, or grabbing a chocolate donut from the office coffee room as if it was a life preserver in a sea of stress. But now researchers have proven that higher consumption of chocolate and depression go hand in hand.
"Depressed mood was significantly related to higher chocolate consumption," Dr. Natalie Rose of the University of California, Davis, and University of California, San Diego, and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine this week.
The researchers studied 931 men and women who were not taking anti-depressants. The participants were also given a depression screening test. The scientists found that people who scored highest on the mood tests – those with a possible major depression – ate an average of 11.8 servings of chocolate a month.
Those whose score showed them as being possibly depressed averaged 8.4 servings of chocolate a month, and those who were not depressed compared with 5.4 servings a month. A serving was defined as one ounce of chocolate.
Do you eat a lot of chocolate when you feel stressed or down? Do you notice yourself craving it in hopes you’ll feel better?
What still must be defined is the exact nature of the link. Which comes first, the chocolate or the depression?
From the Los Angeles Times:
“It's not clear how the two are linked, the authors wrote. It could be that depression stimulates chocolate cravings as a form of self-treatment. Chocolate prompts the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that produce feelings of pleasure.
“There is no evidence, however, that chocolate has a sustained benefit on improving mood. Like alcohol, chocolate may contribute a short-term boost in mood followed by a return to depression or a worsened mood. A study published in 2007 in the journal Appetite found that eating chocolate improved mood but only for about three minutes.