Diet and Relief from Depression: Biology or Placebo?

by Mohammed, Kaylah, Jocelyn, and Greg


Depression is a mental illness which cripples its victims by disrupting normal functions such as sleeping patterns, appetite, and the ability to enjoy daily activities. The illness varies in intensity, creating a spectrum from minor depression, which includes seasonal affective disorder (SAD), all the way to major depressive disorder. This article provides an overview of many aspects of depression so that the writer may have a better understanding of this disorder. Depression is so often generalized and in becoming familiar with its various subtypes will assist the writer in creating more direct and helpful information for the public. The causes of depression are also numerous, and there are many factors that play into the severity of someone’s symptoms. Though there are medications that can assist in the alleviation of depressive symptoms, it is also important that the public understands what they can personally do in their own kitchen to aid themselves. In this wikipage, our research group has investigated different aspects of diet that can be manipulated to influence the shackles of depression. Futhermore, we have devoted a section to setting up the context for the link between biology, diet, and depression to allow the writer a comprehensive understanding of what the public can do to aid their depression.

Depression. (2011). Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Review of Depression

A Brief literature review on depression

Melancholy was considered as depression due to an excessive amount of black bile in the body.

Depression : A mood (1)state of sadness, gloom, and pessimistic ideation, with loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities, accompanied in severe cases by anorexia and consequent weight loss, insomnia (especially middle or terminal insomnia) or hypersomnia, asthenia, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. It appears as a symptom of many mental disorders.

Colman, A.(2008). depression. In A Dictionary of Psychology. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 Apr. 2015, from

Depression in the body systems

Jacka and Berk in this article argue that diet is perhaps related to the causes of depression. They dismiss Descartes idea of mind-body dualism, in which the body and mind are considered as two separate substances and systems. In addition to that, they point out that since the 20th century there has been an emerging awareness of the close connection and bidirectional communication between the nervous system and the immune and the endocrine systems. Based on such connections they illustrate through biological explanations the ways in which depression not only occurs in the brain but is also strongly influenced by the whole body systems. According to Jacka and Berk considering depression as a systematic mental disorder, it is influenced by genetic, hormonal, immunological, biochemical and neurodegenerative factors. For instance, there is a body of evidence suggesting that gene factors determine the risk of developing depression. However, that maybe true but they suggest that gene expression is also influenced by environmental factors such as diet. For example, nutrients can be considered as factors that modulate gene expression and protein activity. To make this point clear they illustrate that deficiency in zinc impacts large numbers of genes that are responsible for oxidative stress defense. Furthermore, they illustrate the role of immune system in depression. They point out studies that indicate depression is a chronic inflammatory condition. Considering inflammation as an automatic response to viruses and infections its efficiency is influenced by habitual diet. Scientific studies indicate that magnesium deficiency in the body increases the chances of having inflammation which than can lead to depression.

Jacka, F., & Berk, M. (2007). Food for thought. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 19(5), 321-323. doi:

Depression linked to immune system, inflammation, cytokines, and balance of neurotransmitters

In this podcast they talk about the relationship between inflammation and depression. Depression is defined as a state of immune activation. Inflammation is regarded as body’s defense against external or internal threat from microbes, viruses and bugs. The speakers point out that inflammation is evident in depression and most other psychiatric disorders. Studies show that cytokines that are the products of immune system are increased in depressed patients. When the immune system is active due to inflammation our bodies produce cytokines that are the mediators of the immune system. Consequently, depression is caused by inflammation or the release of cytokines; it can also work the other way around. Animal studies indicate that cytokines can induce depression in rats by simply administering cytokines to them. There are also epidemiological studies on humans that measured people’s cytokines who have never been depressed. The results indicated that those people with the highest levels of cytokines, even though they have never experienced depression were at higher risks of developing depression over the next 10 years. Relating all this back to diet, a healthy diet has an impact on the immune system in which can also help reduce depressive symptoms in the body. For instance, Omega3’s help to reduce and clean up cytokines. And a bad diet can increase the risk of inflammation or the release of cytokines and therefore induce depression that changes the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain which is followed by the reduction of serotonin.

Mitchell, N. Tickle, M. (2011, August 20). An inflammatory story: depression and immunity. All in the mind abc podcast. Podcast retrieved from

Placebo effects on depression and changes in the brain

The purpose of this study by Vallance (2007) is to assess whether the placebo effect in treating depression is related with specific functions in the brain, through the neuroimaging technology. The study is made out of two depressed groups who are undergoing functional neuroimaging. The first group is treated with placebo effect and the second group is given no specific treatment. The results in the placebo group showed that 2 out 4 participants revealed no changes, whereas, the remaining others showed increased frontal activity in recovery. The second group, 2 out of 5 participants showed increased anterior cingulate activity on recovery. According to Vallance, there are also other neuroimaging studies that indicate, cingulate cortices activity is reduced in depression. Vallance concludes by pointing out that “recovery from depression in placebo groups correlates with changes in frontal and cingulate cortical activity, although theses may be found in recovery without treatment too. It is also speculated that antidepressant treatment delay relates to counterbalancing of an advantages placebo effect with a disadvantages initial drug effect” (177). Perhaps that’s why sometimes depressed people undergoing medical treatment commit suicide sometime after taking antidepressants.

Vallance, A. K. (2007). A systematic review comparing the functional neuroanatomy of patients with depression who respond to placebo to those who recover spontaneously: Is there a biological basis for the placebo effect in depression? Journal of
Affective Disorders, 98(1-2), 177-185. doi:

Depression, personality change and the serotonin system

In this article the authors examine depression as a major depressive disorder (MDD) in relation to personality change. High neuroticism and low extroversion both are personality risk factors that overshadow genetic vulnerability to MDD which are linked to the serotonin system in the brain. They test whether patients with MDD taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs’) report greater changes in neuroticism and extroversion than patients receiving inert placebo. Their findings indicate that paroxetine which is a form of SSRI, effects personality in a way that is different from just treatment of depression. For instance, the effects SSRIs’ include increases in extroversion and decreases in neuroticism (experience of negative emotions) which also contribute to antidepressant effect. Their findings also disprove the effect hypothesis. Essentially, the authors of this article are proposing that an effective treatment of depression requires personality change through the administration of SSRIs’.

Tang, T. Z., DeRubeis, R. J., Hollon, S. D., Amsterdam, J., Shelton, R., & Schalet, B. (2009). Personality change during depression treatment: A placebo-controlled trial. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(12), 1322-1330. doi:

Depression not merely a biological disturbance

In this article the author takes a hermeneutic approach to depression. Granahan, unlike the other articles that take a reductionism to biology approach regarding causes and solutions to depression, wants to caution psychologist to not forget about the actual lived experiences of depressed individuals. For instance, biological approaches to depression tend to look where in the brain do antidepressant drugs have most impacts and symptoms of depression in the body. Granahan agrees that in extreme cases of major mental disorders some do require medical treatment. However, when people are depressed because of toxic interpersonal relationships, lack of feelings of belonging and have experienced trauma, the disease model of depression has not much to offer. Granahan also wants the readers to rethink the role of the ghost or the psyche in depression. To him depression is part of life that helps one to find balance in the mind or the soul and treatment through medication will only repress the depressive symptoms which originate from unconscious and social forces that often constraint individual ability to maintain homeostatic balance and be active participants of social interventions. Therefore, if we want to understand and help reduce depression a more hermeneutic approach that views depression based on the actual lived experiences of individuals in a particular context, time period and culture is more effective. So treatment through diet may not be as effective as psychotherapy that focuses on the origins of depression rather than its biological symptoms.

Granahan, C. C. (2006). Depression in the twenty-first century: A hermeneutic study of reclaiming the psychic reality in our views of depression (Order No. AAI3187924). Available from PsycINFO. (621564130; 2006-99006-234). Retrieved from

Considering the various approaches to the study of depression, this article by Miller provides a good overall literature review based on different approaches that point to causes, effects and different explanations of depression. This case study attempted to provide a descriptive result of the relationship between diet and depression, through the overall lived experiences of three individuals. Based on the results of this case study in relation to the literature review done by Miller he concludes that “psychotherapy, medication, dietary and other lifestyle factors, social support networks, belief systems, practitioner effects, biochemical makeup, and genetic predisposition, socio-economic status, cultural, political and environmental influences, all are variables which interweave to promote or diminish physical and mental health”(250-251). As a result in his view, diet alone may not be an effective treatment for depression alone.

Miller, M. (1996). Diet and psychological health: A multiple case study (Order No. AAM9632119). Available from PsycINFO. (618999277; 1996-95021-291). Retrieved from


The Relationship Between Alcohol, Serotonin, and Depression

Many people are familiar with the mental haze drinking brings about, but alcohol does more than temporarily alter an individual’s acuity and awareness; this article has shown that short term alcohol consumption affects the release of serotonin, the function of serotonin receptors, and chronic use may lead to adaptive changes within the brain in order to compensate for the constant inhebriation. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that facilitates the communication of information between nerve cells. Though serotonin has many applications, the writer should be particular interested in its influence on mood states. Evidence of serotonin’s profound effect on illnesses such as depression is proven through the antidepressant named selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) which increases the amount of serotonin available for the receiving neuroreceptor. That is to say, that when there is higher levels of serotonin for absorption, there is a subsequent decrease in the symptoms of depression. For people suffering with depression it is important that they do not actively contribute to the negative changes alcohol enacts on serotonin and its various processes. Therefore, the writer should use this article to highlight the importance of serotonin and also th e relationship between alcohol consumption, serotonin, and depression.

Lovinger, D. (1997). Serotonin's Role in Alcohol's Effects on the Brain. Alcohol Health and Research World, 21(2). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from PsycINFO

Alcohol Consumption and Depression in Women

This article, which originally aimed to investigate a link between age, depression, and alcohol consumption, has highlighted the increased impact of alcohol on depression in women. It is common to stereotype women as the more emotionally unstable gender, so the writer must exercise caution in how the results of this article are communicated to the public. Interestingly, the evidence of this study shows that individuals who abstain from alcohol consumption also have a high level of depression. However, this is not to encourage people to drink as the article dictates that uncontrolled variables such as socioeconomic status and physical impairment could be influencing that correlation. The writer can stress that an individual does not have to give up the occasional drink to alleviate depression but as with all things in life alcohol should be taken in moderation. The importance of this article comes from its demystifying of depression: it is not just an illness that unruly teenagers experience, it affects a range of age groups.

Tait, R., French, D., Burns, R., & Antsey, K. (2012). Alcohol Use and Depression from Middle Age to the Oldest Old: Gender is More Important than Age. International Psychogeriatrics, 24(8). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from PsycINFO.

The Relationship of Frequency and Intensity of Alcohol Consumption, and Age on Depression

One of the key factors in changing habits is to have specific parameters to stay within in order to achieve your goals. Thusly, this article has provided individuals suffering from alcohol dependency and depression with the frequency and amount of drinks necessary to potentially avoid depression. It was found that women who drank five or more drinks on one occasion at least once a month were more likely to have depression that those who had five or more drinks on one occasion with a frequency of less than once a month. Similar to the previous article, this study notes a strong correlation between alcohol consumption in women and depression. Furthermore, women between 19 and 30 are at an increased risk of major depression. This statistic is important as it is in that range of age that people become legal to drink, as well as attend post-secondary institutions. The writer could use this to connect numerical age to various milestones (moving out, becoming independent, etc.) in order for their audience to better relate to the information, which may perhaps aid its reception.

Wang, J., & Patten, S. (2002). Prospective Study of Frequent Heavy Alcohol Use and the Risk of Major Depression in the Canadian General Population. Depression and Anxiety, 15(42-45). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from PsycINFO.

Depression's Influence on Alcohol Abuse

The cycle of alcohol addiction is a brutal one, and should be avoided as best as possible. To provide the public with the tools necessary to overcome depression, it is important that they understand how it influences alcohol dependency. This article investigates the co-dependency of depression and alcoholism, and concludes that individuals who suffer from depression are at an increased risk of abusing alcohol. Regardless of gender, depressed individuals have a 3.5 percent higher chance of being alcohol dependent than individuals who do not have depression. Most importantly, this study is confident in the causality of this correlation as they claim to have controlled other potentially influential variables. The writer should use this information to emphasize that depression is not a stand-alone illness; there are many other aspects of an afflicted person’s life that are affected by depression including the development of alcohol dependency.

Lukassen, J., & Beaudet, M. (2005). Alcohol Dependence and Depression Among Heavy Drinkers in Canada. Social Science & Medicine, 61. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from PsycINFO.

B12 Vitamin

Nutritional Variants Present in Depression and Perinatal Depression

According to this article, Kaitlyn Rechenberg and Debbie Humphries present critical biological information on nutrition and perinatal depression. This is a good article to consider as it covers vitamin B12 deficiency and its affects on pregnant women. The authors have provided evidence on how vitamin B12 levels fluctuate during pregnancy and risk of depression. Furthermore, treatments of nutritional interventions are provided. Perinatal depression is common and primary care holds a crucial role for detecting, treating or, if necessary, providing referrals to mental health care for affected women. (2010) Much of their research illustrates epidemiological evidence of nutrients that are at play in depression and perinatal depression. Epidemiology is the study of determinants, occurrence, and distribution of health and disease in a defined population. Infection is the replication of organisms in host tissue, which may cause disease. A carrier is an individual with no overt disease who harbors infectious organisms. Dissemination is the spread of the organism in the environment. (1996) As stated in the article, depression is the leading cause of mental disability in the world. 121 million people are affected by depression and less than 25% of those who are affected have access to effective treatment. Depression falls disproportionately on women, having been affected by mental disability and are two to three times greater risk compared to men. (Pp.127) Furthermore, This article establishes the nutrients involved in brain function affecting depression. Nutrition is an essential part of normal brain functioning, which includes the proper operational neurotransmitters, which may be the connection between nutrition and depression. Nutritional status, mainly folate, fatty acids, and Vitamin B12, have been exhibited to affect depression. (Pp.129)

Nutrient Changes During Pregnancy Increase Risk of Depression
As stated in this article, nutritional factors that affect pregnancy are examined. These factors are correlated to depression as the level of vitamin B12 fluctuate. It is important to consider this affect as the consequences on pregnancy may lead to various illnesses. In the article, it states that pregnant women are more susceptible to depression as the result of the nutritional changes that occur during pregnancy. This gives insight on what biological factors such as nutrients that are lacking during pregnancy resulting in greater risk of depression. According to the article, pregnant women are at a greater risk of nutrient deficiencies since there is a greater nutrient requirement during pregnancy. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that pregnant women should consume three times more vitamin B12 0.4 mcg/day non-pregnant to 1.4 mcg/day pregnant) to compensate for changes in B12 metabolism during pregnancy. (Pp.131) Furthermore, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B-6 are critical factors in homocysteine metabolism. Homocysteine is a necessary antecedent in the biosynthesis of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It is likely that folate influences the rate of synthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin, a cofactor in the hydroxylation of tryptophan and is part of the biosynthesis of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. All of these neurotransmitters are linked in the pathogenesis of depression. (Pp.13) Subsequently, Rechenberg highlights the function of homocysteine metabolism and its affect on depression. It gives insight on the biological processes of the essential vitamin B12 amongst others and its critical role in homocysteine regulation. The article states that Homocysteine is a non-protein-forming sulfur amino acid. It is a key component of remethylation to methionine and (requiring folate and vitamin B12) and transsulfuration to cystathionine (requiring pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the RBC plasma form of vitamin B-6). Overall, these pathways are vitamin B12 dependent for synthesis and metabolism of serotonin and other monoamine neurotransmitters. (Pp. 131-132) The article reveals that high homocysteine levels and folate deficiency are not only risk factors for perinatal depression, but also for several placenta-mediated diseases such as low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, preeclampsia, and placental abruption. (Pp. 132)

Treatment: Nutritional Interventions
Presented in this article are nutritional and cost effective ways of preventing and treating depression in pregnancy. These are important to consider when seeking to avoid the use of drugs to ensure safe treatment of pregnant women and their babies. The article states that when these nutritional treatments are used prophylactically, nutritional interventions may decrease the incidence or severity of perinatal depression. Furthermore, it may reduce the utilization of or the necessary dose of psychotropic drugs, which may reduce the risk of harm to the fetus while providing the mother with the necessary therapy. Safely reducing perinatal and postpartum depression rates may lead to more positive birth outcomes and a reduction in the depression cycle in offspring. (Pp. 134)

Brachman, Philip S. (1996) "Chapter 9 Epidemiology." Medical Microbiology. 4th Edition. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Muzik, Maria, and Stefana Borovska. (2010) "Perinatal Depression: Implications for Child Mental Health." Mental Health in Family Medicine. Radcliffe Publishing Ltd. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Rechenberg, Kaitlyn. (2013) "Nutritional Interventions in Depression and Perinatal Depression." Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 86, 127-137. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Epidemiologic Evidence from Woman's Health and Aging Study

This article presents a study on vitamin B12 deficiency and depression in physically disabled older women. It provides an epidemiologic framework that illustrates the biological nutrients affecting depression. This study tested 700 women’s level of B12 linked to severity of depression. According to the article, vitamin deficiency was determined by assessing the enzymatic conversation of L-methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA to methylmalonic acid. It states that vitamin B12 deficiency limits the methylation of homocysteine to methionine. (Pp.716) The study shows the serum vitamin and metabolite concentrations and the vitamin deficiency prevalence by depression status. The mildly and severely depressed women tended to have lower vitamin B12 levels than the non-depressed women. Of the severely depressed women, 43.4% had elevated methylmalonic acid levels, whereas the rates were 35.0% and 30.1% among the mildly depressed and non-depressed subjects, respectively. Vitamin B12 deficiency was present significantly more often among the severely depressed and mildly depressed subjects than among non-depressed women. (Pp.717) The study found that community-dwelling older physically disabled women with metabolically significant vitamin B12 deficiency had a risk of depression that was more than twice as high as that of women without vitamin B12 deficiency. Overall, the association between methylmalonic acid and depression was very strong where the depressed subjects had significantly higher methylmalonic acid levels than the non-depressed subjects. (Pp.719)

Penninx, B. W.j.h. (2000) "Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression in Physically Disabled Older Women: Epidemiologic Evidence From the Women's Health and Aging Study." American Journal of Psychiatry, 715-721. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Absorption

This article gives insight on the biological processes of vitamin B12 and its absorption relating to psychiatric ailments when the nutrient is insufficient. This article provides a strong foundation on the biological process of vitamin B12 and its part in regulating homocysteine levels as it is shown that high homocysteine levels are an indicator of depression. Firstly, it is indicated that serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels, which are increased early in vitamin B12 deficiency, measure a method for screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. For effective treatment, supplementation with oral vitamin B12 is safe for the B12 deficiency state. (Pp.979) Normal absorption involves two enzymatic reactions that are vitamin B12 dependent. In the first reaction, methylmalonic acid is converted to succinyl-CoA using vitamin B12 as a cofactor. This means that vitamin B12 deficency can lead to increased levels of serum methylmalonic acid. In the second reaction, homocysteine is converted to methionine by using B12 and folic acid as cofactors. The result of this when vitamin B12 is insufficient may lead to increased homocystein levels. (Pp.980)


Robert, C. Oh. (2003) "Vitamin B12 Deficiency." - American Family Physician, 979-986. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

Treatment of Depression: Time to Consider Vitamin B12

This article presents plausible evidence supporting vitamin B12 intake as an effective treatment for depression. The study compares the affect of patients treated with vitamin B12 and placebo. The results reveal a significant improvement of depressive symptoms amongst those who were treated with vitamin B12. It states that although many new antidepressant drugs have been introduced recently, response rates have not improved and the treatment of depressive illness remains unsatisfactory. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, as well as the older tricyclic antidepressants, have a response rate of approximately 50%, compared to 32% on placebo. Furthermore, evidence supports the importance vitamin B12 status in depression. (Pp.59-60) The article suggests implications for managing depression, which involve vitamin B12. A daily oral dose of 800 μg of folic acid is calculated to be adequate in most cases. The required dose of vitamin B12 depends on how depleted the patient’s stores are, and on the underlying reason for a deficiency. For maintenance therapy, a daily oral dose of 1 mg (of which approximately 1% is absorbed by diffusion, independently of intrinsic factor) is generally considered adequate. (Pp.64)

Coppen, A. (2005) "Treatment of Depression: Time to Consider Folic Acid and Vitamin B12." Journal of Psychopharmacology 19.1, 59-65. SAGE Journals. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.


Western Culture and Society: Influence of Fast Food

It is worth taking the time to note the fact that there are serious limitations to the study of individual nutrients in relation to disease. Depression is such a disease that may very easily be influenced by complex combinations and interactions among several nutrients and an individual’s daily diet. It is always plausible that demographic (eg. socio-economic position), bio-behavioral, genetic, environmental and socio-cultural factors all contribute to demonstrated associations in a study. This is why it is important to find articles that take these variables into account and adjust the experiment accordingly.

This article is excellent for the reader because the study design was well thought out. It had a few thousand people, who were all randomly selected and cross-sectionally observed for the duration of the study (meaning many individuals were studied in great detail over a long period of time). Each group of people were studied based on the diet they were going to be following and the nutrients within it. This would be studied in correlation and association with depressive symptoms.

The categories were whole food dietary pattern, low calorie, meat/eggs/fish <twice per day, well balanced meals, processed food dietary pattern, Western diet, fast food, commercial baked goods consumption, ready to eat food, snack food, high calorie high-sweet diet and high-calorie non-sweet diet (Quirk,et al. 2013. pg 8-16). The results of the study showed that processed food, fast food consumption, snack food and high calorie high-sweet diet all associated with depressive symptoms (Quirk, et al. 2013. pg 15). However, the author of the reading put a heavy emphasis on the fact that the largest association was with fast food consumption. These results would be essential to the reader because this type of study narrows down food groups in general ones and allows focus to be put on individual nutrients. Something like fast food is loaded with sugar and trans-fat which would be the next thing to look into. This study would be used as a more general approach to the term ‘diet’.

Quirk, S. E., Williams, L. J., O'Neil, A., Pasco, J. A., Jacka, F. N., Housden, S., Brennan, S. L. (2013). The Association Between Diet Quality, Dietary Patterns and Depression in Adults: A Systematic review. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 175. Retrieved from : 244X-13-175

Trans Fats

This article is particularly important because it goes through the association between all types of fats with the presence of depression. In this article, it has a population of approximately 5000 men and 7000 women of Mediterranean culture. This article is excellent because it had its confounding variables adjusted many times throughout the duration of the study. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the population of people in the study were highly educated which adds to the overall reliability and accuracy of the study (Sanchez et al. 2011. pg. 6).

The results in this article show that there is a direct potentially harmful association of trans fat intake with the prevalence of depression(pg.119). This would be very useful for the readers purpose because it can be directly correlated with the rising consumption of fast food in Western culture. For the interest of the reader, this article also found an inverse association between mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat consumption and depression. The same was found with the consumption of olive oil. This article would be perfect for a reader looking to associate trans-fat consumption with depression.

Sánchez-Villegas, A., Verberne, L., Irala, J. D., Ruíz-Canela, M., Toledo, E., Serra-Majem, L., & Martínez-González, M. A. (2011). Dietary Fat Intake and The Risk of Depression: The SUN project. PLoS One, 6(1) Retrieved:from:

Sugar Consumption and Depression

In this article, there were six countries put together for primary analysis. These countries were Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, Korea and the United States (Westover and Marangell. pg 118). In this article the relationship between sugar and depression is looked into with great detail. The author goes through many of the changes that occur within the human biology when excess sugar is consumed. According to Westover and Marangell (2002), when sugar is consumed, there is a release of endorphins that may create an unhealthy relationship (pg 119). The possibility that abnormalities in endorphins may be contributing to depression has been investigated for many years. The real interesting points come when the authors speak of a neuro-imaging study done in humans. It showed that pleasant tastes activate the amygdala,
anterior insula and the arbitofrontal cortex(pg. 119). These same regions demonstrate neuro-physiologic abnormalities in major depression (pg. 120).

For the reader’s purposes, it would be also good to know that a study such as this one may lead into further investigations. For example, when you have theories relating sugar consumption to depression, there are also clear implications for studying the same relationship between diabetes mellitus and depression. With the increasing rate of adult onset diabetes rising parallel to fast food consumption (Western society), it would be easy for a reader to look into correlation and association studies in this field.

Westover, A. N., & Marangell, L. B. (2002). A Cross-National Relationship Between Sugar Consumption and Major Depression? Depression and Anxiety, 16(3), 118-120. Retrieved from:

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