Hunger Hormone Ghrelin has antidepressant anti-anxiety effect

The BBC today reported some interesting research from Nature Neuroscience which suggests an important link between Ghrelin (a hormone produced in the stomach to tell the brain to produce feelings of hunger) and depression and anxiety.

It is quite hard to tell from the report whether having higher or lower doses of this hormone might help:

"Our findings in mice suggest that chronic stress causes Ghrelin levels to go up, and that behaviours associated with depression and anxiety decrease when Ghrelin levels rise," This quote by Dr Zigman would seem to suggest that being hungry makes us calmer. Problem is, a lot of anxious people actually comfort eat and other certainly use foods like chocolate and ice cream to calm themselves down in a crisis.

Like the antidepressant Celexa, a side effect of raised Ghrelin levels would be somewhat liable to lead to wight gain, as it induces hunger. Maybe that is something that could be remedied before any potential product came onto the market.


Like all of these stories, the research seems to promise a lot but whether the product will actually ever be realised  is another matter. Often these things sink without a trace (there was a similar Cortisol story a few years ago). At any rate, it would take 10 years for research and development.


Furthermore, are drugs really ever going to be the answer to psychological problems? The debate goes on!

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