Remove meat from a man’s diet, and he may well slip into depression.

The current issue of the prestigious Journal of Affective Disorders, which includes the report entitled “Vegetarian diets and depressive symptoms among men,” comes to that conclusion.

Mental health benefits and risks of vegetarian diets are subjects about which little is known, according to the article.

The authors are Joseph R. Hibbein of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Rockville, MD, and Kate Northstone, Jonathan Evans and Jean Golding, all from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The Journal of Affective Disorders publishes research about all sorts of affective disorders including depression, mania, anxiety and panic.

The authors say men who self-identify for their vegetarian dietary habits may also self-identify for their own “significant depressive symptoms.” And overall, the NIH-Bristol researchers found vegetarians had higher depression scores than non-vegetarians.

“Self-report data from 9,668 adult male partners of pregnant women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) included identification as vegetarian or vegan, dietary frequency data and the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale (EPDS),” the study abstract says.

“Continuous and binary outcomes were assessed using multiple linear and logistic regression taking account of potential confounding variables including age, marital status, employment status, housing tenure, number of children in the household, religion, family history of depression, prior childhood psychiatric contact, cigarette and alcohol consumption.

“Vegetarian men have more depressive symptoms after adjustment for socio-demographic factors, ” the authors concluded. “Nutritional deficiencies (e.g., in cobalamin or iron) are a possible explanation for these findings, however, reverse causation cannot be ruled out.”

The complete article is behind a $39.95 pay wall with alternative online access sources, including VisitScienceDirect.

More depression among male vegetarians might, according to the authors, be caused by lower vitamin B12 or by the increased intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Other potential causative agents include elevated blood levels of phytoestrogens from soy or vegetable-based foods.

The NIH-Bristol report is not the first time scientists have linked vegetarian diets to depressed people. Most who’ve offered a reaction to the latest study want more research into the topic because depression is such a serious health risk.

Men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. White males account for as many as 7 out of 10 suicides and the demographic group with the highest suicide rate is white, middle-aged men, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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