Chocolate for Depression

Can chocolate relieve the symptoms of depression? Will chocolate boost your mood?  Read this.

Can chocolate relieve the symptoms of depression? Will chocolate boost your mood? Read this.

What is it?

Many people report using chocolate as comfort food or to boost their mood.

How does it work?

There are several ways in which chocolate could boost mood:

  • Chocolate contains carbohydrates. Eating food high in carbohydrates but low in protein can boost the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is thought to be in short supply in the brains of depressed people. However, some scientists believe that the protein content of chocolate may prevent it from boosting serotonin.
  • Chocolate contains small amounts of various drugs that might affect mood, including phenylethylamine (which affects the level of certain chemical messengers in the brain), caffeine and theobromine (which are stimulants), and other drugs which affect the brain in a similar way to cannabis. However, the dose of these drugs in chocolate is fairly low.
  • The pleasant taste and texture of chocolate is believed to bring about the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain which act like opiates to increase pleasure and reduce pain.

Is it effective?

The effect of chocolate on people who are clinically depressed has not been tested. However, it has been found not to improve the mood of normal people. Although chocolate provided these people with short-term pleasure, it also led to feelings of guilt afterwards.

Are there any disadvantages?

Chocolate is high in saturated fats which can increase the risk of heart and other disease.


Where do you get it?

Chocolate is readily available in various forms. However, one study found that brown chocolate satisfied craving better than white chocolate or cocoa powder.


There is no evidence to support chocolate as a treatment for depression.

Key references

Bruinsma K, Taren DL. Chocolate: food or drug? Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1999; 99: 1249-1256.

Macdiarmid JI, Hetherington MM. Mood modulation by food: an exploration of affect and cravings in 'chocolate addicts'. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 1995; 34: 129-138.

back to: Alternative Treatments for Depression

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 26). Chocolate for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Last Updated: July 11, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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