Treating Depression- Do Dietary Supplements Play a Role?


Two important epidemics are being faced on a global level. One of these problems is related to the health of your body and the other to the mind i.e. obesity and depression.

In the U.S. alone, almost 70 percent of all men and women suffer from obesity. Almost 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults have major depressive disorders. Previous studies have revealed that people who suffer from obesity or are overweight are more likely to experience depression. This has made the researchers wonder if dietary changes can help fight depression.

In a new study, the scientists decided to find out whether adopting different dietary strategies can have any effects on mental health. Because depression is considered as a common problem, finding effective ways to prevent them is important.

The results of this study appear in JAMA and offer hope that certain dietary measures can be effective in this regard. However, the overall suggestion says that making nutritional changes may not be sufficient in preventing depression.

Supplements have No mental Health Benefits

For the trial, the investigators recruited over 1025 people with a BMI greater than 25 i.e. they were either obese or overweight.

The participants were living in four different countries i.e. Germany, Spain, Netherlands, and the U.K. The special assessments had found that all of these people were at risk of developing depression although none of them had depression at baseline.

The researchers assigned half of these people to take nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D, folic acid, selenium, and zinc. The other group was given a placebo.

Half of the participants in this trial were also given psychological and behavioral interventions that aimed at improving their dietary habits. After one year of follow-up, the investigators found that using supplements had no protective effects against depression as compared to the placebo.

Diet and nutrition may be an important part of life but this study has successfully demonstrated how taking nutritional supplements do not help prevent depression.

Dietary Patterns Play a Role

Behavioral therapy has encouraged better dietary habits and yielded results that were positive but not on a significant level. The intervention did not do well as compared to the supplement regimen in preventing depression.

However, attending all sessions that the organizers recommended seemed to prevent depressive episodes in people who complied with the advice.

A suggestion was put forward that changing all the food-related behaviors and diets may help avoid depression but this may require further investigation.

A healthy dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean style diet, rich in veggies, fruits, fish, pulses, olive oil, and whole grains an low in full-fat dairy and red meat may reduce the depression risk. Secondly, people suffering from obesity, weight loss can cause a decrease in depressive symptoms.

“Third,” they add, “current evidence does not support the use of nutritional supplements in order to prevent depression.”

Future studies, the team notes, should look further into how dietary patterns influence mental health outcomes and what types of dietary change are most likely to help prevent depression.


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Samantha Issac
Samantha is a graduate of Medicine with masters in Public Health. Most of her writings are in medicinal tools, technology, and treatments. In addition to that, she is a freelance healthcare writer based in the USA.


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