Mood state effects of chocolate

J Affect Disord. 2006 Jun;92(2-3):149-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.02.007. Epub 2006 Mar 20.


Background: Chocolate consumption has long been associated with enjoyment and pleasure. Popular claims confer on chocolate the properties of being a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic and antidepressant. The last claim stimulated this review.

Method: We review chocolate's properties and the principal hypotheses addressing its claimed mood altering propensities. We distinguish between food craving and emotional eating, consider their psycho-physiological underpinnings, and examine the likely 'positioning' of any effect of chocolate to each concept.

Results: Chocolate can provide its own hedonistic reward by satisfying cravings but, when consumed as a comfort eating or emotional eating strategy, is more likely to be associated with prolongation rather than cessation of a dysphoric mood.

Limitations: This review focuses primarily on clarifying the possibility that, for some people, chocolate consumption may act as an antidepressant self-medication strategy and the processes by which this may occur.

Conclusions: Any mood benefits of chocolate consumption are ephemeral.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cacao* / chemistry
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Depression / psychology
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography


  • Neurotransmitter Agents