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Are vegetarians more likely to have mental health problems?

Are vegetarians more likely to have mental health problems?

According to one study, mental disorders among vegetarians are said to be particularly common: a study with no causal result

Vegetarians are increasingly suffering from psychological problems, according to a recent study. A German team of researchers led by Johannes Michalak from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Hildesheim investigated "the connections between vegetarian nutrition and mental disorders". The scientists found that there was an "increased prevalence rate for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and somatoform disorders" among the vegetarians. The researchers published their results in the journal "Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity".

In the course of their study, the scientists compared the psychological complaints of 244 vegetarians (completely vegetarian 54, predominantly vegetarian 190) and 3,872 non-vegetarian participants in the Federal Health Survey (GHS-MHS). In order to enable a more meaningful comparison, the researchers also formed a socio-demographically coordinated partial sample with 242 test subjects from the participants in the GHS-MHS. This sub-sample was in agreement with the vegetarian group in the essential factors such as the gender distribution, the age of the test persons, the size of the place of residence and the proportion of single people. In this way, distorting factors should be excluded in the current study.

Vegetarians increasingly with depression, anxiety disorders and psychosomatic illnessesn
Numerous studies have shown in the past that vegetarians are physically significantly healthier on average than meat eaters. However, the few existing studies that deal specifically with the psyche of vegetarians came to the conclusion that the latter, among other things, suffer more frequently from depressive disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders. The significance of the studies was, however, relatively limited, since the proportion of women on the vegetarian side was always particularly high and women generally suffer more frequently from the mental disorders mentioned than men. The comparison therefore showed distortions that could only be attributed to the different gender distribution in the test and control groups. The scientists led by Johannes Michalak from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Hildesheim have now formed a socio-demographically adapted control group as part of their study in order to rule out such distortions.

No causal connection between vegetarian diet and psychological problems The result of the comparison of the psychological state of vegetarians and meat eaters remained the same as in the previous studies despite the adjusted control group. Vegetarians were increasingly prone to mental disorders such as depression, somatoform disorders and anxiety disorders. However, many of the subjects suffered from mental health problems before becoming vegetarian. “In Western cultures, the vegetarian diet is associated with an increased risk of mental illness. However, there was no evidence of a causal role of vegetarian nutrition in the etiology of mental disorders, ”the researchers write in the journal“ Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity ”.

Basic mentality reason for vegetarianism and the increased psychological suffering? Since many of the test subjects had already had to deal with mental disorders before deciding on a vegetarian diet, it can be concluded that psychological factors play a role here, which increase both the decision to go vegetarian and the susceptibility to mental illness. In this way, vegetarians usually forego meat by critically questioning their previous lifestyle or diet. This reflects a basic attitude, which is borne by a certain doubt about the circumstances and increased thoughtfulness. If you think little and have no doubts about your existence, you are probably less susceptible to the mental problems mentioned. For example, the increased prevalence of mental disorders among vegetarians could be traced back to a basic mental attitude that ultimately also influenced the decision to forego meat. (fp)

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