Is there a link between chocolate cravings and depression?

I can’t count how many times per day I crave chocolate.

Never before was chocolate a problem in my life, in fact I hardly ever ate chocolate before I became a mother. I could go months at a time without eating or even thinking about chocolate, it meant nothing to me. Now it’s just another issue weighing me down. Apart from gaining weight from it and not carrying it well either, it gives me intense heart burn – the kind of heartburn that hurts so bad you end up having a panic attack because let’s face it, it feels like you’re having two heart attacks in one.

I can only question why I have this need for chocolate. Is it hormone related? Are the chemicals in my brain unbalanced that much it causes this addiction? Am I lacking in certain nutrients? I need to find out.

Heres a few potential reasons:

Lacking magnesium – apparently chocolate is high in magnesium, therefore you will crave chocolate if you lack magnesium. Fair statement, however I take magnesium supplements daily, as well as absorbing some naturally from certain foods I eat, so I can’t blame it entirely on this.

It makes you feel good – they say chocolate increases seretonin, the chemical in the brain responsible for happy moods, therefore eating chocolate makes you feel good which of course you’d crave If you suffer with depression. This makes sense, so perhaps my brain is telling me to eat chocolate in order to help lift my mood? But what about the aftermath where I feel fat and miserable from the sugar crash? More chocolate?

Again, it makes you feel good – after reading study upon study and a lot of scientific jargon, it comes back round to how chocolate makes us feel. Studies from here, there and everywhere suggests that simply consuming certain components made up in chocolate is not enough to satisfy a craving, but you need the whole ‘experience’ to truly satisfy your need. That means smelling the aroma, the melting on your tongue, the taste and texture, the whole thing. We relate these to feeling good, it plants memories of good feelings in your brain, along with the increase in feel-good chemicals in the brain. Yep, chocolate is good for you.

I can only give up on my research here and just go with the idea I’m addicted to chocolate because I feel bad. My mind wants chocolate because my mind wants to feel good. Ah jeez!

Considering the idea we relate chocolate to good feelings and with positive effect, could I trick my brain into doing this with other foods? Could I sit and train my brain into relating strawberries with happy memories and feelings and begin to crave those instead? The only short term fix I’ve found is to eat some nuts (contains magnesium) and drink a mug of Option’s Belgian hot chocolate (apparently 40 calories per serving) and try and forget about it!! Do give your better suggestions should you have any.

Below I have posted an overview of a study on chocolate cravings being linked to depression. This is not my study, just a reference to one.


Drug addicts in general can be distinguished from nonaddicts by their affective and physiological and craving responses to drug-related cues. The purpose of this study was to examine similar affective, physiological, and behavioral variables in chocolate “addicts” and control subjects.


Sixteen addicts and 15 control subjects took part in two laboratory experiments in which their heart rate, salivation, and self-reported responses were measured.

In the presence of external chocolate cues, chocolate addicts were more aroused, reported greater cravings, experienced more negative affect, and also ate more chocolate than control subjects. Self-report measures on eating attitudes and behavior, body image, and depression confirmed that a relationship exists between “chocolate addiction” and problem eating. Chocolate addicts showed more aberrant eating behaviors and attitudes than controls, and were also significantly more depressed.

Chocolate addicts may be considered to be a parallel with addicts generally, because they differ from controls in craving for chocolate, eating behavior, and psychopathology (in respect of eating and affect). © 1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 25: 169–175, 1999.


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