ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
CANCER
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
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
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Add your Article

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