The new research from Spain suggests that small amounts of wine — between 2 and 7 glasses per week — might help ward off clinical depression. Clinical depression is a serious disorder that affects about 5 percent of the U.S. population at any given time.
The study followed 5,500 light-to-moderate drinkers for up to seven years who were a part of the PREDIMED study. The subjects were between ages 55 and 80.
None of the subjects at the onset of the study had had a personal or family history of depression or of alcohol problems.
Their alcohol consumption, mental health and lifestyles were followed for up to seven years through yearly visits, repeated medical exams, interviews with dieticians and questionnaires.
The researchers found that the lowest rates of depression were found among individuals in the study who drank a moderate amount of wine per week — 2 to 7 glasses. Drinking more than 7 glasses did not improve a person’s chances of not coming down with depression.
The study took into account additional variables that might help explain the findings, like lifestyle and social factors, such as smoking, diet and marital status.
“Lower amounts of alcohol intake might exert protection in a similar way to what has been observed for coronary heart disease,” said Professor Miguel A. Martínez-González, from the University of Navarra and senior author of the study.
Few studies have looked at the relationship between mental health and moderate alcohol intake. The study’s authors suggest that moderate amounts of alcohol consumption — a glass a day, for instance — may have similar protective effects on depression to those that have been observed for coronary heart disease.
“In fact, it is believed that depression and coronary heart disease share some common disease mechanisms,” noted Martínez-González.
Depression is a treatable mental disorder that is characterized by an overwhelming sad mood, lethargy, hopelessness, lack of motivation or energy, sleep problems, and lack of pleasure in activities that used to bring a person pleasure for longer than two weeks. Effective treatments for depression include certain types of psychotherapy as well as antidepressant medications.
The study was published in the journal, BMC Medicine.
Source: BMC Medicine