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March 5, 2019

Diet and Depression—From Confirmation to Implementation

Author Affiliations
  • 1IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  • 2Food & Mood Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  • 3Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 4Black Dog Institute, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia
  • 5Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
JAMA. 2019;321(9):842-843. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0273

Over the past decade, nutritional psychiatry has developed into a promising research area in a field with great unmet need.1 The early research has advanced from cross-sectional epidemiological studies reporting associations between diet quality and mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety,2 to longitudinal and mechanistic studies.3 Observational findings have been extensively replicated and documented in meta-analyses4 and are supported by intervention studies examining the efficacy of dietary improvement as a treatment for depression; recently, 2 preliminary trials of dietary interventions for depression have yielded similar positive findings.5,6 A new meta-analysis confirms that dietary interventions significantly reduce depressive symptoms, although nearly all studies to date have involved nonclinically depressed populations; that is, individuals with subsyndromal depressive symptoms, metabolic disorders, other somatic conditions, or healthy adults recruited from the general population.7 Thus, for the findings from these studies to serve as catalysts for clinical change, additional independent and methodologically rigorous interventions targeting depression are essential. In this issue of JAMA, 2 randomized trials8,9 provide important results that focus on the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry.