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Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Late-Life Depression

May 20, 2019
Konstantinos Argyropoulos,  MD, PhD
Konstantinos Argyropoulos,  MD, PhD

SAN FRANCISCO—Adhering to a Mediterranean diet may protect against developing symptoms of depression late in life, researchers reported at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting.

Researchers from Hellenic Open University in Greece conducted a cross-sectional study involving 154 members of 5 day-care centers for older people in East-Attica, Greece. From March to May of 2018, depressive symptoms were measured with the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) and adherence to Mediterranean diet was assessed using the MedDietScore (MDS).

Although there was not a significant association between scores on the 2 scales, depression diagnosed by a physician was associated with a difference in the MDS.

In addition, the study found a diet higher in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol, in particular, was associated with decreased likelihood of late-life depression or depressive symptoms.  A typical Mediterranean diet also emphasizes eating fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and dairy products, eating fish in moderation, and limiting red meat and sweets.

“Our results support that depression in older adults is common and strongly associated with several risk factors,” wrote lead author Konstantinos Argyropoulos, MD, PhD, and colleagues. “Adherence to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age."

The authors cautioned that the study could reflect that people with depression have more difficulty maintaining healthy diets, exercise and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

—Terri Airov


“Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Late- Life Depression.” Abstract presented at: the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA.

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