Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Junk food blues: Are depression and diet related?

Can a junk food diet increase your risk of depression?

Updated: 03-29-2012

Answer

Depression and diet may be related. Some preliminary research suggests that having a poor diet can make you more vulnerable to depression. Researchers in Britain looked at depression and diet in more than 3,000 middle-aged office workers over the course of five years. They found that people who ate a junk food diet — one that was high in processed meat, chocolates, sweet desserts, fried food, refined cereals and high-fat dairy products — were more likely to report symptoms of depression.

The good news is that the people who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish were less likely to report being depressed. These results are in line with other research findings that healthy diets help protect against disease. For example, studies suggest that people who follow the Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes fruits, vegetables and fish, and limits meat and dairy products — have lower rates of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

More research is needed on the connection between depression and diet. In the meantime, you might want to eat your veggies and cut back on the junk food.