Individuals who screen positive for possible depression appear to consume more chocolate than those who screen negative, according to a report in the April 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Those who screened positive consumed an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate per month, compared with 5.4 servings per month among those who screened negative, according to researcher Natalie Rose, MD, and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, and University of California, San Diego.

Those with probable major depression consumed even more chocolate: 11.8 servings per month. 

“Depression could stimulate chocolate cravings as ‘self-treatment’ if chocolate confers mood benefits, as has been suggested in recent studies of rats,” the researchers write. “Second, depression may stimulate chocolate cravings for unrelated reasons.”

Conversely, it’s also possible that chocolate consumption could actually contribute to depressed mood.

A physiological factor like inflammation could drive both depression and chocolate cravings, or more complex relationships may exist, the researchers add.

“Future studies are required to elucidate the foundation of the association and to determine whether chocolate has a role in depression, as cause or cure,” the authors conclude.