ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed

Could the depressed be "self-medicating" with chocolate? A new study finds that people battling depression reach for more of the sweet treat than non-depressed folks do.

Many people believe that "when they are feeling a little bit down, chocolate makes them feel better," said lead researcher Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb, an associate professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Chocolate does appear to be popular among people with depression, whether or not they are being treated with antidepressants, the research team found. "A lot of us may have been able to predict this finding," Golomb said.

For the study, published in the April 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the UCSD team looked at the relationship between chocolate and mood in 931 women and men who were not taking antidepressants.

The participants were asked how much chocolate they ate, and their level of depression was measured on a standard depression scale.

People diagnosed as depressed ate an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate each month compared with 5.4 servings among people who were not depressed, the researchers found.

The most depressed ate the most chocolate -- around 11.8 servings a month, the team discovered.

These findings were the same for men and women.

When the researchers looked at people who were taking medication for depression, they found these people ate chocolate at the same rate as those with untreated depression, according to Golomb.

No difference was noted regarding consumption of other foods, such as fish, coffee, caffeine or fruits and vegetables, between the depressed and non-depressed people, the researchers found. The difference seemed to be isolated to chocolate, they said.

Chocolate -- particularly dark chocolate -- has been linked in other research to improved cardiovascular health and longevity, possibly because of its antioxidant properties, Golomb noted.

The link with depression could have several explanations. Because it is thought to improve mood, it could be a form of "self-medication," Golomb noted.

On the other hand, chocolate might contribute to depression, or the link could be a complex combination of as yet unknown physiological effects, the researchers said. Future studies are needed to further explore the association, they said.

Experts voiced different reactions to the findings.

"The nature of 'emotional eating' or 'comfort foods' is complex," said Dr. Gregory Simon, a psychiatrist and mental health researcher at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

"When people feel depressed or distressed, they may prefer certain foods because of their nutritional content, such as more fat or refined sugar, or their emotional meaning, because some foods are seen as a treat or a consolation, or their practical qualities, since some foods take less motivation or energy to prepare or consume," Simon said.

Another expert, Dr. Lorrin Koran, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral science, at Stanford University School of Medicine, noted that "chocolate has many advantages over other possible pleasures."

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."

SOURCES: Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, University of California, San Diego; Gregory Simon, M.D., M.P.H., psychiatrist and mental health researcher, Group Health Research Institute, Seattle; Lorrin Koran, M.D., professor emeritus, psychiatry and behavioral science, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.; April 26, 2010, Archives on Internal Medicine Published on: April 26, 2010