Australian researchers are conducting the world’s first clinical study to determine whether an improved diet can help people suffering from major depression.
Scientist Felice Jaka said the researchers will specifically look into whether a Mediterranean and red meat diet can alleviate depressive symptoms.
“Diet quality seems to be related to the risk of depression and anxiety,” Jaka said.
“But of course a different question is if you’re already depressed, does improving your diet actually help?” she said.
Scientists at Victoria’s Deakin University, St Vincent’s Hospital and Barwon Health are recruiting 200 people in Melbourne and Geelong to take part in the study.
“The Mediterranean diet is very healthy and that’s one that has lots of plant foods and vegetables and fruits, whole grains and fish but our research has indicated that red meat may also be important,” she said.
Jaka further said it was unlikely a change of diet would form the primary treatment of depression.
“Anti-depression medications are very helpful to many people and very important to take but for some people they are not effective, so we certainly wouldn’t see this as an either-or,” she said.
“We would see this very much as supporting any other sort of therapy that people may be on but for some people it actually may be enough in and of itself. It’s one of the things we’ll be looking at”, she added.