Other Factors Leading to Depression
The study also takes in consideration reverse causation. This means that there is a possibility that people who were already suffering from depression decided to become vegan or vegetarian. Feelings of depression may not be directly linked to dietary restrictions. It is a possibility that a person who was already depression altered their diet in an attempt to treat their depression.
Studies like this don’t show causation, just correlation, so it’s hard to know which way the relationship works. The study also suggests that it’s entirely possible that something else may be “causing” both the vegetarianism and the depression. As stated in the study, “It is possible that for some proportion of the population, vegetarianism is not chosen for health, religious or ethical reasons, but is a marker for other psychiatric disorders manifesting with symptoms of both eating disorders and depressive symptoms.”
So What Next?
So what does this mean for vegetarians and vegans? Though this research was only conducted on men, there was a key take away about your diet. Vegetarian and vegan diets lead to deficiencies in the vitamins and minerals that are essential to neurological function. The study shows that symptoms of depression were reduced in people who started taking B6, B12, and folic acid supplements. As always, consult your doctor before taking any new medications or supplements. If you’re feeling any symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts remember that you’re not alone and consult your doctor immediately.