Depression and obesity. Two epidemics of magnanimous proportions here in the United States. More than 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, and almost 7% suffer from severe, clinical depression. Both conditions are oftentimes—and sadly—fatal.
In the past, research has suggested a link between depression and obesity. Overweight or obese individuals are more prone to developing depression. This correlation inspired a team of researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK to study different dietary patterns and the effect they had on the manifestation of depressive symptoms in overweight or obese patients. The findings from this study were recently published in JAMA. The key findings were:
• Nutritional changes alone are most likely not enough to prevent the onset of depression
• Supplements, such as folic acid, vitamin-D, omega-3 fish oils, zinc, selenium and other vitamins generated no mental health benefits
• A healthy diet—rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, and fish—may offer subtle relief of depressive symptoms
• In obese people, weight loss was aligned with a reduction in depressive symptoms
• Researchers discovered evidence that changes to food-related behaviors could decrease the likelihood that a person develops depression, but more research is needed to understand the implications of these findings
In an ideal world, treating depression—or alleviating the symptoms—would be as easy as adding a few dietary supplements and making healthier choices when it comes to food and drink. Unfortunately, though, this latest study indicates that this simply isn’t the case. Fortunately, many effective options exist, including talk therapy, antidepressant medications, and ketamine infusions for the treatment of severe or treatment-resistant depression.