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Dietary interventions did not prevent depression onset nor reduced depressive symptoms in a large multi-center randomized controlled depression prevention study (MooDFOOD) involving overweight adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms. We conducted follow-up analyses to investigate whether dietary interventions differ in their effects on depressive symptom profiles (mood/cognition; somatic; atypical, energy-related).
Baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up data from MooDFOOD were used (n = 933). Participants received (1) placebo supplements, (2) food-related behavioral activation (F-BA) therapy with placebo supplements, (3) multi-nutrient supplements (omega-3 fatty acids and a multi-vitamin), or (4) F-BA therapy with multi-nutrient supplements. Depressive symptom profiles were based on the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology.
F-BA therapy was significantly associated with decreased severity of the somatic (B = −0.03, p = 0.014, d = −0.10) and energy-related (B = −0.08, p = 0.001, d = −0.13), but not with the mood/cognition symptom profile, whereas multi-nutrient supplementation was significantly associated with increased severity of the mood/cognition (B = 0.05, p = 0.022, d = 0.09) and the energy-related (B = 0.07, p = 0.002, d = 0.12) but not with the somatic symptom profile.
Differentiating depressive symptom profiles indicated that food-related behavioral interventions are most beneficial to alleviate somatic symptoms and symptoms of the atypical, energy-related profile linked to an immuno-metabolic form of depression, although effect sizes were small. Multi-nutrient supplements are not indicated to reduce depressive symptom profiles. These findings show that attention to clinical heterogeneity in depression is of importance when studying dietary interventions.
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