ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Countdown to Hair Loss
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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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