Study: Diet Soda and Depression are Linked

By: Jenna Savage


It has been proven that what we eat can affect the way we learn and the way we feel. Having a high intake of sugar can lead to a lot of problems, like impaired learning, while eating a diet high in fat can lead to depression and anxiety. Our dietary choices therefore affect not only our bodies, but our minds as well. And it turns out that what we drink may have an impact on our mental states, too, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The research shows that there is a link between the consumption of diet soda and depression, an NBC News article reports.

The National Institutes of health studied over 263,900 American adults during 1995 and 1996. After checking back in with those participants 10 years later, researchers asked whether or not they had been diagnosed with depression. It turns out that participants who drink at least four cans of any soda daily are 30% more likely to have diagnosed depression. And that’s not the worst of it – the risk is highest for those who chose diet soda. Compared to a 22% of likelihood of developing depression in regular soda drinkers, consumers of diet soda are 31% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

The statistics are even worse for those who drink fruit juice. Participants who drink more than three cans of fruit juice on a regular basis are 51% more likely to have been diagnosed with depression – a startling percentage.

While researchers did consider different lifestyle habits, like exercise, whether or not participants were smokers, and daily energy intake, diet soda and fruit juice have not been labeled as causes of depression. This is because there are other possible causes of depression for which the researchers may not have been able to account, such as stressful events, illnesses, or major life changes. Nevertheless, it does raise the question of the effect of sweeteners on depression and draws attention to an area of research that needs further study.

In addition to determining that sweeteners – even those without calories, like the ones used in diet soda – may affect the prevalence of depression, the study also found that participants who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are 10% less likely to have depression than those who do not drink any coffee at all.

Though sodas and fruit juices may not cause of depression, it’s true that what people put into their bodies can affect the way they think and feel. Lifestyle changes, while not a substitute for medical treatment of depression, can therefore sometimes improve a sufferer’s quality of life.