According to a new study, drinking wine in moderation may be associated with a lower risk of developing depression.
The findings reported by the PREDIMED research Network suggest that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol may protect from depression - interestingly, just as it has been observed to protect from coronary heart disease.
Previous studies have shown that heavy alcohol intake is related to mental health problems, such as depression. However, very few studies have looked at the relationship between mental health and moderate alcohol intake.
In this new study, researchers reported on a cohort study that followed over 5,500 light-to-moderate drinkers for up to seven years. Study participants were aged between 55 and 80 years old, had never suffered from depression or had any alcohol-related problems before the study started.
The alcohol consumption, mental health and lifestyles of all study participants were followed for up to seven years through yearly visits, repeated medical exams as well as interviews with dieticians and via questionnaires.
Study participants mainly drank wine - and those who drank moderate amounts of wine each week were less likely to suffer from depression.
In fact, the lowest rates of depression were seen in individuals who drank 2-7 small glasses of wine every week. These results remained significant even when the data was adjusted for lifestyle and social factors such as smoking, diet and marital status.
The study authors believe that lower, more moderate amounts of alcohol intake acts to protect from depression in a similar way to what has been observed for heart disease. In fact, depression and coronary heart disease are believed to share common disease mechanisms.
Previous studies have indicated that non-alcoholic compounds in the wine, such as resveratrol and other phenolic compounds may have protective effects on certain areas of the brain.
Is this what is happening here? Only future studies will tell.