Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report, “The effects of dietary improvement on symptoms of depression and anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” has been published in Psychosomatic Medicine online ahead of print (1). The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis examining effects of dietary interventions on symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Twenty-six papers were identified as potentially eligible after the title-and-abstract screening stage. Screening of the full text versions resulted in 10 of these papers being excluded. Sixteen randomized controlled trials with outcome data for 45,826 participants (median average age= 55 years, range= 21 to 85 years) were included. The majority of randomized controlled trials examined samples with non-clinical depression (N=15 studies).
Dietary interventions significantly reduced depressive symptoms. Similar effects were observed among high-quality trials and when compared to both inactive and active controls. No effect of dietary interventions was observed for anxiety. Studies with female samples detected significantly bigger benefits from dietary interventions, for symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
The authors have noted that the significant heterogeneity in the meta-analyses is a limitation of the study. The authors concluded that dietary interventions hold promise as an intervention for reducing symptoms of depression. The authors also suggest that given the potentially accumulative effects of diet and exercise together, future research should explore the modification of diet in concert with multiple other lifestyle modifications to provide a more integrated approach.
1. Firth J, Marx W, Dash S, Carney R, Teasdale SB, Solmi M, Stubbs B, Schuch FB, Carvalho AF, Jacka F, Sarris J. The effects of dietary improvement on symptoms of depression and anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychosom Med. 2019 Feb 5. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000673. [Epub ahead of print]