Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Carr, Kristen


depression, prevention, treatment, diet, nutrition, nutritional psychiatry, primary care


The purpose of this research and systematic literature review is to determine whether adherence to a Mediterranean diet or a plant-based diet has better effects on decreasing depression prevalence and/or symptom severity. A variety of keywords were used to search the online database, PubMed. Clinical trials and randomized controlled trials conducted within the last 20 years were included in the initial search. Exclusions were made if studies were not specific to Mediterranean or plant-based diets, or if they were focused on other psychiatric illnesses besides depression. For the final review, ten articles were selected. After thorough analyses and comparisons of the studies, it was concluded that adherence to a Mediterranean diet had superior benefits in both preventing depression onset and aiding in treatment of depressive symptoms. The current research regarding the effects a plant-based diet has on preventing and treating depressive symptoms is inconclusive. Some studies concluded that following a plant-based diet is beneficial in prevention and treatment of depression while others reported that the lack of animal products in a diet can actually increase the risk of developing depression and/or worsen depressive symptoms. Further research must be done to clarify if a modern-day plant-based diet is beneficial or detrimental in the prevention and treatment of depression.