Study Suggests Link Between Pro-Inflammatory Diets and Long-Term Depression and Anxiety in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

by Ella

A decade-long study tracking patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) indicates that diets promoting inflammation may contribute to the development of depression and anxiety over time, according to research published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

The study, titled “A pro-inflammatory diet is associated with long-term depression and anxiety levels but not fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis,” focused on 190 adults with a first clinical diagnosis of demyelination, who were subsequently diagnosed with MS over the course of 10 years. Led by researchers in Australia, the study investigated the potential correlation between dietary inflammation and levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue in individuals with MS.


MS, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, can lead to inflammation and degeneration of nerve fibers, affecting both physical and mental health.


The study utilized dietary information collected through a food frequency questionnaire at baseline and across five- and 10-year follow-ups. Participants, primarily women (80.5%), had a mean age of 44.5 years at the five-year follow-up.


Results revealed a significant association between higher dietary inflammatory indices and increased levels of depression and anxiety at the five-year mark, as assessed using the Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale. Furthermore, a correlation was observed between higher dietary indices and a worsening of depression and anxiety scores between the five- and 10-year follow-ups.


Cumulative energy-adjusted dietary inflammatory index (E-DII) scores were also linked to depression and anxiety at the 10-year follow-up. The researchers emphasized that the long-term cumulative effect of chronic inflammation mediated by specific foods appears to be significant, rather than an immediate impact on depression and anxiety.

However, the study did not specify the types of foods or consumption levels associated with higher inflammatory indices. Interestingly, no connection was found between dietary inflammation scores and fatigue, as assessed using the Fatigue Severity Scale.

The study’s findings contribute to existing evidence suggesting that fatigue in MS may not be influenced by food-induced changes in immune function or inflammatory burden. Additionally, the use of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) did not seem to alter the association between dietary inflammatory indices and depression and anxiety over the five-year period.

The researchers concluded that the long-term accumulation of chronic inflammation mediated by specific foods could play a crucial role in increasing the risk of subsequent anxiety and depression, emphasizing the potential impact of dietary choices on mental health outcomes in individuals with MS.



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