Mood state effects of chocolate

Abstract: “Chocolate consumption has long been associated with enjoyment and pleasure. Popular claims confer on chocolate the properties of being a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic and antidepressant. The last claim stimulated this review.

We review chocolate’s properties and the principal hypotheses addressing its claimed mood altering propensities. We distinguish between food craving and emotional eating, consider their psycho-physiological underpinnings, and examine the likely ‘positioning’ of any effect of chocolate to each concept.

Chocolate can provide its own hedonistic reward by satisfying cravings but, when consumed as a comfort eating or emotional eating strategy, is more likely to be associated with prolongation rather than cessation of a dysphoric mood.” (Journal of Affective Disorders )

Discontinuing Antidepressants Can Have Unintended Side Effects

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants, and following their widespread use, psychiatrists note the prevalence of a related condition called SSRI discontinuation syndrome which often follows the cessation of these medications. The condition most often occurs directly after a patient stops taking the medication altogether, and symptoms can affect equilibrium (dizziness, vertigo); gastrointestinal systems (nausea, vomiting); emotional states (anxiety, recurrence of depression, increased suicidal urges); physical sensations (lethargy, flu-like symptoms, tingling of the extremeties); and sleep patterns. In response to these complications, psychiatrists reinforce the importance of taking prescriptions strictly as directed and refraining from self-medication. In addition, some clinicians recommend adopting new terminology to distinguish discontinuation syndrome from relapses of depression as well as drug addiction and subsequent withdrawal, thereby increasing awareness and easing patients’ fears of suffering from a dependance on antidepressants.

Though problems with discontinuation are common, they are too often either confused with addiction or not addressed at all. The experience can be both painful and inconvenient, but ‘drug craving’ and other elements of chemical withdrawal are notably absent from the list of symptoms. Doctors recommend several methods of response to severe discontinuation reactions: reassuring patients that that any irregularities are short-lived will most likely pass in two to three weeks, prescribing gradually decreased dosages of the medication in question, and switching to antidepressants with longer half-lives to slow the speed at which the medicine leaves the body…” (Tx Online)

Heavy metals may be implicated in autism

“Urine samples from hundreds of French children have yielded evidence for a link between autism and exposure to heavy metals. If validated, the findings might mean some cases of autism could be treated with drugs that purge the body of heavy metals.

Samples from children with autism contained abnormally high levels of a family of proteins called porphyrins, which are precursors in the production of haem, the oxygen-carrying component in haemoglobin. Heavy metals block haem production, causing porphyrins to accumulate in urine. Concentrations of one molecule, coproporphyrin, were 2.6 times as high in urine from children with autism as in controls.” (New Scientist)

Can’t Complete High School?

Go Right to College: “…[I]n an era of stubbornly elevated high school dropout rates, the chance to enter college through the back door is attracting growing interest among students without high school diplomas.

That growth is fueling a debate over whether the students should be in college at all and whether state financial aid should pay their way. In New York, the issue flared in a budget battle this spring.” (New York Times )