Randomized controlled trial suggests healthier diet may directly reduce depression

Posted on October 18, 2019

A three-week long program was conducted among university students ranging from 17 to 36 years old with moderate to high depressive symptoms and poor dietary habits to investigate the link between diet and depression.

Researchers from Macquarie University in Australia randomly split the participants into two groups – ‘diet change’ and ‘regular diet’ groups. For the participants in the diet change group, brief instructions were given on how to improve their diet, as well as a healthy hamper and $60 to buy groceries. Each participant was also called twice over the three weeks to check on their progress.

The regular diet group was not given anything and was told to simply return after three weeks. Participants were also assessed on depression, anxiety, overall mood and performance on several learning and reasoning tasks before and after the intervention.

After the three weeks ended, individuals in the diet change group showed significant improvements in mood and reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms. On the other hand, the regular diet group did not show any significant changes.

Three months after the program, the researchers followed-up with some of the participants and found that only 21% of them continued with the healthy diet, and those who did so continued experiencing improved moods.

However, this study has some limitations, mainly regarding the fact that the participants in the control group were not given any instructions or check-ins during the program to parallel the diet change group. Nonetheless, the research has provided some interesting findings which can help with depression, which might lead to the development of better treatment programs after further research.


Source material from Science daily

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