Depression-Driven Overeating Is Potentially Treatable

December 30th 2015

Many patients with depression overeat on a regular basis as a result of their condition.

Many patients with depression overeat on a regular basis as a result of their condition.

Fortunately for them, a new study suggests that the anesthetic ketamine could alleviate this symptom.

Previous research has demonstrated that the use of ketamine yields a significant reduction in the symptoms of chronic depression among patients who were resistant to common antidepressants. Further studies revealed that the drug activates the mTORC pathway, which regulates proteins involved with the synaptic connections that are frequently damaged by stress and depression. This pathway also plays a role in cellular responses to energy and metabolism, linking it to metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

Most recently, a team of researchers at Yale University set out to examine the potential connection between depression and overeating by feeding rats a diet containing 6 times more fat than what they normally consumed. Although the rats exhibited signs of depression and anxiety after 4 months on this diet, the research team found that these effects were quickly reversed with the administration of a low dose of ketamine.

In an interview withContemporary Clinic, senior study author Ronald Duman, PhD, explained that his team’s findings pointed towards an underlying connection between depression and diet-related illnesses, and suggested that the benefits of ketamine could extend to patients with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorder.

“There are key pathophysiological mechanisms that are common to both depression and type 2 diabetes, and these mechanisms contribute to the high comorbidity of the 2 conditions,” Dr. Duman said. “Novel rapid-acting antidepressants like ketamine that target the innate immune/inflammatory pathways could be used to treat depression in patients with type 2 diabetes.”

He acknowledged that further research is needed to establish ketamine’s effect on metabolism, as well as its potential benefits in treating depression. However, he added that clinicians are able to help patients manage the disorder and its symptoms by encouraging them to make important lifestyle changes.

“Clinicians can play a crucial role in guiding patients towards better diet and lifestyle choices,” Dr. Duman toldContemporary Clinic. “Regular exercise is particularly effective, as it is known to produce effects that oppose the deleterious actions of stress and depression.”

The study, which was published inNeuropsychopharmacology, is not the only recent piece of research to explore the link between diet and mental health, as anew surveyconducted by Orlando Health found that only 10% of participants considered psychological well-being to be their greatest obstacle in losing weight.

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