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Nutrients may help treat people with mental illnesses

Nutrients may help treat people with mental illnesses

May 22, 2014

Nutrients do help treat some people with mental illnesses, a University of Canterbury researcher says.

Despite the advent of medications and other therapies over the last 50 years, the rates of mental illness have been on the rise rather than in decline. Over the last decade, scientists have been uncovering an uncomfortable truth that what people eat is affecting their mental health.

University of Canterbury psychology professor Julia Rucklidge will give a public lecture on the issue on campus next Wednesday (May 28). View a preview video here:

One in six New Zealand adults have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder, according to the latest New Zealand health survey.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with a common mental disorder (20 percent) than men (13 percent). Younger people have a higher prevalence of psychological distress, as do those who are economically disadvantaged and Mäori and Pacific people.

The health survey last year showed 33,000 New Zealand children had been diagnosed with emotional and behavioural problems, including depression, anxiety, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which has doubled since 2007.

"My lecture next week will discuss data that show food choices can be risk factors for many psychiatric problems. I will also discuss research demonstrating that broad spectrum micronutrients can help treat some mental illnesses with robust effects being observed across different disorders, different researchers and different countries," Professor Rucklidge says.

"We are keen to do further significant research into how children with mental illness may respond to nutrients and we are urgently seeking philanthropic funding to carry out vital studies.

"With more funding, we have the potential to determine to what extent nutrients may be helpful in treating mental disorders, which disorders are most likely to benefit and why. We are also interested in determining whether the effects of nutrients can be sustained in the long-term," Professor Rucklidge says.


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