ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Olive Oil May Be Key to Mediterranean Diet's Benefits
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Football Can Shrink Players
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
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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