Do you eat chocolate because you are sad? Or are you sad because you eat chocolate? The conundrum, known as Guisewite's Paradox, has plagued philosophers for generations. And now, Science has tackled it! Do they have an answer for us?
Participants in a recent study of dietary intake and chocolate consumption were given a mood test to screen for possible depression. Those who scored highest ("possible major depression") consumed the most chocolate—almost 12 servings a month. Those who scored "not depressed" only ate 5.4 servings a month.
So what is it about chocolate that attracts the saddoes? Science has a few ideas.
Theory 1: You Eat Chocolate Because You Are Sad
It could be that depression stimulates chocolate cravings as a form of self-treatment. Chocolate prompts the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that produce feelings of pleasure.
Chocolate is like Xanax, or heroin, or being mean to people: It makes you feel better.
Theory 2: You Are Sad Because You Eat Chocolate
Another theory is that chocolate consumption contributes to depression.
Chocolate is like your memories of middle school, or your emotionally distant parents, or the Republican party: It is the cause of your depression.
Theory 3: Chocolate and Sad Are Locked in an Endless Self-Reinforcing Cycle
It's also possible that depressed people seek chocolate to improve mood but that the trans fats in some chocolate counteract the effect of omega-3 fatty acid production in the body, the authors said in the paper. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve mental health.
Chocolate is like your body-image issues, or your self-esteem, or your last six relationships: It is both a contributing factor to, and the twisted result of, your depression.
There you have it: Chocolate is either a desperate attempt at self-medication for already-extant depression, or the very reason for that depression. Or both!