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Chocolate only temporary help for depression

31st March 2006

Eating chocolate may only alleviate depression temporarily and could increase long-term symptoms, according to a new study.

A report by scientists from the Black Dog Institute at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney claims that those who eat chocolate as a comfort or to alleviate a low mood are at best only receiving temporary help.

Lead author Professor Gordon Parker says that unlike chocolate cravers, who release "feel good" neurotransmitters when eating the substance, "emotional eaters, people who eat chocolate to relieve boredom, stress or clinical depression, are looking for an opioid effect to improve their mood".

Sweet foods have been thought to release the neurotransmitter beta-endorphin which improves mood but the new findings, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, might dispel the idea.

Professor Parker added that although chocolate works on the body's same neurological system as the natural mood enhancer serotonin: "You'd have to eat a truck load of chocolate before you have had the equivalent of one antidepressant tablet".