Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Depressed? Binge a little

Next time when you are a bit low on energy or in a depressive mood and you feel like gorging on all the sin-ful foods; just give in to the ‘Hunger’ urge and you’d feel better.

Recent studies have shown that a certain hunger hormone called ghrelin, when released can help fight anxiety and stress related depression. Scientists’ findings support the idea that these hunger hormones coordinate entire behavioural response to stress and probably affect the mood, stress and energy levels.

The ghrelin hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal tract when the body is fasting and it then plays a role in sending hunger signals to the brain. A new study on mice has found that chronic stress causes ghrelin levels to go up and that behaviours associated with depression and anxiety decrease when ghrelin levels rise.

However, an unfortunate side effect is increased food intake and body weight. While blocking the body's response to ghrelin signals might be one way to help control weight, but this may actually increase anxiety and depression, which would be bad. Our ancestors had just one common notion which was securing enough food to prevent starvation.

They needed to be as calm and collected as possible when it was time to venture out in search of food, or risk becoming dinner themselves. This is where it is guessed that the anti-anxiety effects of hunger-induced ghrelin may have provided a survival advantage. Researchers are now interested to see whether ghrelin treatment could help people with anorexia nervosa, with the idea being that in a certain population, calorie restriction and weight loss could have an anti-depressant effect and could be reinforcing for this illness.

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