Imagine this scenario: 42 middle-aged female monkeys were fed a Western-like diet containing fat and cholesterol for 18 months. During this pre-treatment phase, depressive behaviour in the animals was recorded. Observation number 1: Western-like diet causes depression.
Then they were randomly given Zoloft, a common anti-depressant, or a placebo, once a day, for 18 months. The monkeys that received Zoloft developed three times the amount of atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries as monkeys given the placebo. In the depressed animals, the amount was even higher — almost six times greater. Observation number 2: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor based anti-depressants like Zoloft, cause hardening of arteries or atherosclerosis, hence increasing risk for heart disease. Female monkeys were chosen for the study because coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, and depressive disorders are twice as likely in women as in men. Moral of the study? Modify your diet, oxygenate your body and get rid of depression.
The study, conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, is published in the current online issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.