Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vicious cycle of over-eating and feeling depressed explained

Date:
May 23, 2012
Source:
Universite de Montreal
Summary:
Some people feel depressed because they have been eating too much, then they eat too much because they are feeling depressed. As is the case with drug addicts, a vicious cycle sets in where "food-highs" are used as a way to combat depression, experts say.

Fat Bastard's revelation "I eat because I'm depressed and I'm depressed because I eat" in the Austin Powers film series may be explained by sophisticated neuroscience research being undertaken by scientists affiliated with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CR-CHUM) and the university's Faculty of Medicine. "In addition to causing obesity, rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the 'come-downs' take their toll," explain lead researcher, Dr. Stephanie Fulton.

As is the case with drug addicts, a vicious cycle sets in where "food-highs" are used as a way to combat depression. "Data shows that obesity is associated with increased risk of developing depression, but we have very little understanding of the neural mechanisms and brain reward patterns that link the two," Fulton said. "We are demonstrating for the first time that the chronic consumption of palatable, high-fat diets has pro-depressive effects."

A molecule in the brain known as dopamine enables the brain to rewards us with good feelings, encouraging us to learn certain kinds of behaviour. This chemical is the same in humans as it is in mice and other animals. The research team feed mice different kinds of food and monitored how the diet affects the way the animals behave. Fulton and her colleagues use a variety of scientifically validated techniques to evaluate the relationship between rewarding mice with food and their resulting behaviour and emotions. The team is also contributing to the improvement of these techniques, such as the one demonstrated in the video. Later, the team actually looks at the brains of the mice to see how they have changed.

Mice that have been fed a higher-fat diet exhibit signs of being anxious, such as an avoidance of open areas, and of being depressed, such as making less of an effort to escape when trapped. Moreover, their brains have been physically altered by their experiences. For example, CREB is a molecule that controls the activation of genes involved in the functioning of our brains and is well known for its contribution to memory formation. CREB is much more activated in the brains of higher-fat diet mice. Finally, these mice have higher levels of corticosterone, a hormone that is associated with stress.

Fulton and her team are part of a research network that is working together to address the biological reasons for obesity and its related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and of course depression. She is based at the Montreal Diabetes Centre, an institution associated with the CHUM and four Montreal universities that brings together facilities for clinical research, cell biology and microscopy research, and rodent physiology research, such as that involved in the depression study.

"Although popular culture jokes about these illnesses and even mocks the people who are suffering, obesity is a serious and major public health issue that already affects hundreds of millions of people. As a society, we must avoid creating stigma and discriminating against obese and depressed people," Fulton said. "With regards to research, it is urgent that we identify the molecules and neural pathways involved in obesity and obesity-related illnesses. My colleagues and I are committed to identifying the brain circuitry involved in these diseases and to improving the tools available to researchers working in the same field."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universite de Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Sandeep Sharma, Cecile Hryhorczuk, Stephanie Fulton. Progressive-ratio Responding for Palatable High-fat and High-sugar Food in Mice. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2012; (63) DOI: 10.3791/3754
  2. S Sharma, S Fulton. Diet-induced obesity promotes depressive-like behaviour that is associated with neural adaptations in brain reward circuitry. International Journal of Obesity, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2012.48

Cite This Page:

Universite de Montreal. "Vicious cycle of over-eating and feeling depressed explained." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120523101929.htm>.
Universite de Montreal. (2012, May 23). Vicious cycle of over-eating and feeling depressed explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120523101929.htm
Universite de Montreal. "Vicious cycle of over-eating and feeling depressed explained." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120523101929.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins