American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

May 19, 2019
2 min read

Mediterranean diet may protect against late-life depression

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SAN FRANCISCO — Data presented here suggest that adhering to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age.

“Adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet has long been recognized as being good for health and has been associated with longer survival, reduced risk of cardiovascular or cancer mortality, and reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases,” Konstantinos Argyropoulos, MD, PhD, from Hellenic Open University in Greece, said during a press briefing. “A Mediterranean diet might also have protective effects against cognitive decline in older people because it combines foods and nutrients potentially protective against cognitive dysfunction or dementia.”

In this cross-sectional study, Argyropoulos and colleagues examined the prevalence of late-life depression in an urban area in Athens, Greece, as well as examined the connections with adherence to a Mediterranean-based dietary pattern and other risk factors.

Researchers used the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) to screen the elderly participants for depressive symptoms, the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS-8) to determine the presence of sleep disturbances and the MedDietScore (MDS) to assess adherence to Mediterranean diet. They employed an anonymous questionnaire to collect basic demographic data.

Mediterranean Diet 

Overall, 154 older adults took part in the study (mean age 71 years; 63.6% female). Based on the GDS-15, 116 participants (75.3%) screened negative for depression symptoms, 33 (21.4%) screened positive for moderate depression and five (3.2%) screened positive for severe depression, according to the presentation. As measured by the AIS, 108 participants (70.1%) had no sleep problems and 46 (29.9%) had insomnia. Most participants were moderately adherent to Mediterranean diet (64.3%), based on the MDS.

Although adherence to this type of diet was not significantly linked to GDS-15 (P = .051), depression diagnosed by a physician was significantly associated with MDS (P = .035), Argyropoulos said in the presentation.

Results from logistic regression analysis also showed that for every additional unit increase in the consumption of vegetables, the likelihood of developing depression dropped by 20%; for each unit reduction in poultry consumption, the chance of depression dropped by 36.1%; and for each unit reduction in alcohol consumption, the probability of having depression dropped by 28%.

“Although we should be cautious about the study findings, they represent another potential reason to adopt a Mediterranean diet. Following a healthy lifestyle, which includes not only a Mediterranean-style diet, but also plenty of physical activity and drinking alcohol only in moderation, is linked to a reduction in depression.” – by Savannah Demko


Argyropoulos K, et al. Adherence to mediterranean diet and risk of late-life depression. Presented at: APA Annual Meeting; May 18-22, 2019; San Francisco.

Disclosures: Argyropoulos reports no relevant financial disclosures.