A new study published in BMC Medicine supports the effectiveness of a healthy diet intervention for relief of depressive symptoms. Participants with depression who received a dietary change intervention experienced significantly more relief from their symptoms than those who received a social support intervention. According to the authors, “Diets higher in plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, and lean proteins, including fish [known as the Mediterranean diet], are associated with a reduced risk for depression, whilst dietary patterns that include more processed food and sugary products are associated with an increased risk of depression.”
With increasing evidence that dietary health impacts mood as well as physical health, such an intervention could provide a safer, more effective alternative to antipsychotic augmentation or ECT. Although the authors say that more research is warranted to clarify the specific mechanisms of change, they comment that clinicians should discuss the benefits of nutrition with their patients and facilitate access to dietary services as part of effective treatment for mental health concerns.