Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 27, 2012
A new Finnish study suggests a low intake of vitamin B12 and folate can increase the risk of melancholic depressive symptoms – a depressed mood.
Conversely, non-melancholic depressive symptoms are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition related to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers studied nearly 3,000 middle-aged and elderly Finnish subjects. Their findings suggest melancholic and non-melancholic depression may be separate depressive subtypes resulting from either pro-inflammation or diet.
The study was the first to look at these depressive subtypes separately.
“The findings have practical implications in the care of patients with depressive symptoms. For example, it may be wise to avoid medication causing weight gain among patients with non-melancholic depression, whereas melancholic depressive symptoms may call for a closer look at the quality of the patient’s diet,” said Jussi Seppälä, M.D.
Melancholic depression involves typical depressive symptoms, such as a depressed mood. Non-melancholic depression is characterized by other types of symptoms, such as low self-esteem and feelings of worry and anxiety.
Researchers discovered that subjects with the highest folate intake were 50 percent less likely to develop melancholic depressive symptoms than those with the lowest intake.
In addition, among those with the highest vitamin B12 levels, the risk for melancholic depressive symptoms was almost three times lower than among those with the lowest levels. A similar association with non-melancholic depressive symptoms was not observed.
Another novel observation is that the risk for metabolic syndrome was double for individual presenting non-melancholic depressive symptoms — as compared to those with melancholic symptoms or those with no depressive symptoms.
Study findings are published in Journal of Affective Disorders.
Source: University of Eastern Finland