Chocolate and Mood

I thought I would use my first post to tie in two of my major interests: mood disorders and weight management. As if we didn’t know, a recent article in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that people who are depressed eat more chocolate.

What isn’t clear is what causes this association. Are people who are depressed reaching for chocolate because it temporarily makes them feel better? Are the eating control centers in the brain weakened by depression, causing people to “give in” to their temptations? Is there a specific ingredient in chocolate that plays a role, like caffeine or magnesium (magnesium has been proposed as a reason for chocolate cravings with PMS)?

Certainly, in this case chocolate consumption is not protective against depression since those with higher scores on the depression rating scale (more depressed) were the ones eating more chocolate. Many consider chocolate as a comforting indulgence which may represent a limited source of pleasure for those who are otherwise feeling down.  I work commonly with people who have an interplay between mood and food issues, and see a tremendous benefit in tackling both sides of the issue.

Regards, Dr. Ranen (Baltimore, Owings Mills, Psychiatrist)