Please pass the chocolate I feel mood coming on

Chocolate is the well known cure-all for the depressed, whether it's because of a breakup, job loss or other tragedy. The food is so deeply ingrained in the culture that we rarely give much thought to the question of whether there is a medical reason for the apparent link between eating chocolate and feeling blue.

A study by researchers at the University of California - Davis and the University of California - San Diego examined the chocolate eating habits and moods of 931 adult men and women in southern California. The researchers examined the association of chocolate consumptions and depression among the study participants.

Those who scored high for depression (16 or higher on the Center for Epidemiological Studies - Depression Scale) ate more chocolate (8.4 servings per month) compared with those who didn't screen positive for depression (5.4 servings per month.) Moreover, participants with the highest scores (22 or higher on the depression scale) consumed even more chocolate (11.8 servings a month on average.)

The researchers said it was unclear whether there was a causal link between chocolate consumption and depression, but postulated several possible answers including that chocolate could confer some mood benefit and depressed people could be self medicating. Alternatively, depression could stimulate a chocolate craving without there being a benefit or, they wrote, chocolate could even contribute to the depression.

"In conclusion, people with higher depression ratings consumed more chocolate," the researchers wrote in an article on their work published in Tuesday's issue of the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine. "Future studies are required to elucidate the foundation of the association and to determine whether chocolate has a role in depression, as cause or cure."

Regardless, I have a nice big bar of 72 percent pure cocoa at the ready for myself and my colleagues as we watch the Tuesday's auction to determine who will own the newspaper and website next.