Table of contents:
- When it comes to treatments for depression, we see very few evidence-based options available. There are two currently in use: pharmaceutical intervention and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, even the best depression medications have relatively high rates of side and withdrawal effects. One glimmer of hope in depression research is the new understanding that food may represent an additional strategy for treating the condition. Is there an antidepressant diet?
- An antidepressant diet can help
Video: Is There A Special Antidepressant Diet? - The Quality Of Life
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 20:18
When it comes to treatments for depression, we see very few evidence-based options available. There are two currently in use: pharmaceutical intervention and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, even the best depression medications have relatively high rates of side and withdrawal effects. One glimmer of hope in depression research is the new understanding that food may represent an additional strategy for treating the condition. Is there an antidepressant diet?
There is a connection between nutrition and brain function - and the intermediate link is insulin and the sensitivity of brain cells to it. A new study 1 shows that people with a current episode of major depressive disorder (MDD) are significantly more likely to be insulin resistant.
The researchers found that patients with MDD were 51% more likely to have insulin insensitivity than their peers without depressive disorder. In addition, in people with ongoing depression, insulin resistance is also associated with the severity of depression and the chronic course of depression.
The new study helped scientists better understand how insulin resistance relates to characteristics of depression, such as remission status, severity and chronic course. The study included 1269 participants with current MDD, remission MDD, and a control group with no history of MDD. Insulin resistance was associated with ongoing MDD - a depressive episode or recurrent disorder - but not remission of the disease.
This nascent area of research is still trying to determine the strength of the connection between depression and diet. A 2020 review and meta-analysis 2 on this issue shows that a healthier diet is significantly associated with a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms. They also found that a less inflammatory diet was associated with lower levels of depression compared to a more inflammatory diet. The result showed that high adherence to dietary recommendations:
- avoiding highly processed foods such as fast food, sausages, cakes;
- An anti-inflammatory diet rich in foods high in magnesium (buckwheat, wheat bran) and folic acid (legumes, spinach, liver);
- omega-3 fatty acids, i.e. sufficient intake of fish or flaxseed;
led to a decrease in the frequency and severity of episodes of depression. However, the authors caution that further research is needed, including randomized controlled trials.
Until recently, the only randomized controlled trial of dietary interventions for adults with depression was the 2017 SMILES study 3. In this trial, adults with depression were randomized (assigned) to receive nutritional counseling or a social support protocol for 12 weeks. It is important to note that the participants were also allowed to continue treatment for their depression, which mainly consisted of psychotherapy, antidepressants, or some combination of these. Thus, the study was indeed a test of the additional benefits of diet modification rather than a study of what happens when diet is used as the primary intervention.
An antidepressant diet can help
At the end of the study period, the researchers found that those in the dietary intervention group had significantly lower symptoms of depression and were significantly more likely to get remission of depression. The effect of the dietary changes was quite large, comparable to some studies of antidepressant drugs being "amplified" with other drugs, such as antipsychotics, which carry the potential for some serious side effects. By the end of the study, about a third of subjects in the diet group were rated as "in remission" from depression, compared with 8% in the control group. Anxiety scores also improved with dietary intervention. It was found that improvement in depression is independent of weight change.
Then, in October 2019, another randomized controlled trial was published in PLOS ONE 4. Researchers randomized young people with depression symptoms and poor overall dietary quality to either a three-week dietary intervention that included cutting back on refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed meats (sausages, sausages), and soft drinks, or continuing with their standard diet. At the end of the study period, students randomized to participate in the dietary intervention reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms.
Diet changes can also help protect older adults from developing depression. Another study 5 found that an antidepressant diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and legumes may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in old age.