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Change Of Diet Can Treat Depression: Diet vs. Social Relationships

depression diet anxiety

Typical treatment for depression commonly involves medication and/or psychotherapy. Researchers are now taking a serious look at the impact of a diet for depression as an additional form of treatment, and the results have shown the undeniable positive impact of food on mood.


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Diet Is Central To Mental Health

Diet and mood have often been linked, however, the possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness has remained largely unknown. In a recent randomized study published in the journal BMC Medicine, aptly named “The Smile Trial", researchers aimed to investigate how diet for depression can be used as a treatment of major depressive episodes.

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Diet Change Was Added To Patient Treatment

Theh ‘SMILES’ study was a 12-week, parallel-group, single-blind, randomized controlled trial of an adjunctive dietary intervention in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.

Researchers recruited 67 men and women ranging from moderate to severe depression, who reported eating a relatively unhealthy diet. Most were taking antidepressants and/or were in regular psychotherapy.

Researchers Looked At Diet vs. Social Relationships

Half of the depressed subjects were put on a diet for depression -- a modified Mediterranean diet, or the “ModiMed” diet, and were required to attend dietary support sessions with a nutritionist.

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The other half stayed on their unhealthy diet, but were required to attend social support, or “befriending” sessions.

The subjects were accessed before and after the 12-week study. Their depression symptoms were graded using the MADRS scale (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale), which rates mood on a scale of 0 to 60, with 60 being the most severely depressed.

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Good Food Does Equal Good Mood

After 12 weeks on the program, subjects in the ModiMed diet group saw their MADRS scores improve on average by about 11 points. Thirty-two percent (10 out of 31 completers) had MADRS scores so low that they no longer met criteria for depression.

The results indicated that dietary improvement may be used as an effective treatment strategy for the management of depression, the benefits of which could extend to the management of both anxiety and depression.