Drinking a carbohydrate-rich beverage appeared to improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in a small double-blind, placebocontrolled trial. The study, conducted by David Mischoulon, MD, and associates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, found that 19 of 27 individual components of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) showed significant improvement in patients taking the beverage, including all components associated with SAD and winter blues (eg, oversleeping, weight gain, and fatigue).
The crossover trial, held during early winter, included 18 patients with a diagnosis of SAD, determined by the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) mood module. The drink used contained 40 mg of a mixture of starch, maltodextrin, dextrose(Drug information on dextrose), and dextrin, and was compared with a control beverage that contained 15 mg of casein and 25 mg of the carbohydrate mixture. The researchers explained that the carbohydrate mixture was believed to contribute to serotonin synthesis, while casein may prevent tryptophan(Drug information on tryptophan) uptake by the brain and dampen synthesis of serotonin.
In the 16 patients who completed the trial, there was a significant improvement in work activity, middle insomnia, and depersonalization/ derealization. Given these positive results, the researchers suggested that replication of this pilot study and further investigation of this treatment are warranted.