Depression is probably the most common mental illness, daily affecting nearly half a billion people around the world. Oftentimes, chemical and hormonal imbalances are the underlying culprit behind the condition and food is one of the ways to correct them.
Food causes chemical reactions in the body, and what we put in determines what we put out. Depression is an uphill battle that can be won in more ways than one, and ironically it is possible to eat your way out of the blues.
Symptoms of Depression
Depressed people experience feelings of worthlessness, sadness, fatigue, lack of motivation, negative thinking, loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy, mood swings, and even physical illness. It may seem unbelievable that food could help the situation at all, especially considering the fact that depressed people sometimes overeat to, in essence, fill up that empty feeling inside.
With this in mind, if you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression that linger beyond a week or two, professional treatment should be sought. More serious forms of depression may require medication, behavioral therapy and dietary changes.
What Foods Can Help Depression?
In addition to other treatment methods for depression, there are certain foods you can consume that will boost your mood and energy levels naturally – and isn’t natural the best way to go?
- Fatty Fish & Fish Oils – This is probably the number one food to eat when you want to add a little pep to your step. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help with quite a number of health conditions, but they also stimulate the brain cells and boost serotonin and endorphins, giving a person a natural high. You can also get Omega-3 fatty acids into your system, by eating more green veggies, olive oil and nuts.
- Iron-Rich Foods – Iron deficiency can make a person sluggish, depressed, weak, or pale. So it’s a good idea to eat plenty of iron-rich foods like green, leafy vegetables, dark meats, beans and fortified cereals.
- Selenium-Rich Foods – Including selenium in your diet will give you a mood boost and help you get rid of the crankiness associated with depression. Selenium-rich foods include wheat, seafood, sea veggies, poultry and mushrooms.
- Complex Carbohydrates – Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, white potatoes and brown rice has a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream, which kind of buffers the usual sugar high carbohydrates bring. As a result, you still get the sugar boost – which transforms into an energy boost – without affecting your blood sugar as much. Carbs also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and makes you feel much better.
- Pyridoxine-Rich Foods – Nutrition experts have found a direct link between vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) deficiency and symptoms of depression. Somehow this vitamin balances chemicals in the brain that are responsible for moods. You can get more vitamin B6 by eating foods like sweet potatoes, chicken, meat, spinach, liver, bananas, and navy beans.
- Thiamine-Rich Foods – Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency can also bring on depression and fatigue, so eat more watermelon, meat, black beans and wheat bread to get your daily dose of the vitamin.
- Folate-Rich Foods – Folate, or vitamin B9, also helps to pull you out of depression. You can find this vitamin in most fruits and veggies.
Now, while depression is not always brought on by nutritional deficiency, the bottom line is that keeping your nutrition in check will directly affect your mood for the better. So eat healthy and beat the blues.