Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Pasta can make you depressed

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Woman eating Pasta

Although pasta is often thought of as a comfort food that makes people feel good after eating, a new study says pasta and other carbohydrates may actually make you depressed instead.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted the 12-year study to find out if there was a link between depression and carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta.

For the study, they recruited 43,000 women who had never had any history of depression. The researchers asked them questions about their daily eating habits and also conducted blood testing on the women.

The Harvard researchers, led by Michel Lucas, Ph.D., found that women who consumed more refined carbohydrates, such as bread, chips and pasta, had up to a 41 percent greater change of being diagnosed with or treated for depression.

According to Lucas, he and his research team were surprised to find that in addition to boosting the risk for depression, carbohydrate-rich foods also affected the body’s immune response by increasing inflammation.

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

However, they were not able to determine the exact cause as to why carbohydrate-rich foods raised the risk for depression and inflammation in the women participating in the study, but they pointed out that foods like coffee, fish, olive oil and wine can be helpful in counteracting symptoms of depression and inflammation because such foods – including certain vegetables – have been found to raise mood and help control inflammation.

In another study published last year in the former Archives of General Psychiatry (now JAMA Psychiatry), researchers also found that an anti-inflammatory medication was helpful in alleviating symptoms of treatment-resistant depression.

For that particular study, researchers from Emory University tested the anti-inflammatory drug on people who were suffering from difficult-to-treat depression, finding the drug blocked an important inflammation molecule that is also known for triggering symptoms of depression.


1. Brain, Behavior & Immunity, Inflammatory dietary pattern and risk of depression among women. Michel Lucas, et al, published October 1, 2013.

2. JAMA Psychiatry, A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonist Infliximab for Treatment-Resistant Depression: The Role of Baseline Inflammatory Biomarkers. Raison CL, Rutherford RE, Woolwine BJ, et al, published January 1, 2013 (originally published in the former Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012; DOI:10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.4).



So odd. I ate pasta at lunch time the other day. I thought it was imagination - I was so sluggish and just felt 'bland'. I didn't eat a lot either. So interesting. I have never noticed it before either after eating pasta. Maybe I've eaten most for dinner and then shortly to bed or blamed fatigue on the day's end. I really totally believe this now.
It is not the pasta, but what you have on or with it. Just a tomato sauce, or olive oil, leek and basil, is fine. In Australia they have gone overboard with richness which is poor for your health. Loads of creamy sauce, and loads of cheese can make you feel sluggish, while tomato sauce Napolitana, or Bolognaise makes you feel good.
The amount of solids in a pasta dish is hardly worth bothering about. Durum wheat swells to more than ten times its size while cooking, and the sauces are predominantly water as well so I would call pasta a water rich food. Potatoes also contain a lot of simple carbohydrates as well as a lot of water