5 Foods to Help With Depression

Health and Wellness

Clinical depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder. It is a mood disorder that affects millions of people every year. Common types of clinical depression include persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression. Common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, anxiety, irritability, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, low energy, trouble sleeping, physical pain, loss of interest, and appetite changes. Life changes, trauma, and a family history of mental illness can cause depression. 

Depression is traditionally treated with medication and psychotherapy. Foods are not known to cure depression, but nutritional deficiencies are linked to depression. Inadequate nutrition only worsens depression. Mood-stabilizing foods are rich in nutrients and provide nourishment for the body and mind. Establishing a depression diet along with any other treatments prescribed by a doctor will provide assurance for those suffering from depression:

1. Probiotics
Gut health is linked to mental health. The brain and gut communicate through the longest nerve in the body, known as the vagus nerve. Much like the brain, the gut produces dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in regulating mood. Probiotics aid in the production of these neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and regulate stress response. Probiotic supplements are available. Foods with probiotics include kefir, yogurt, miso, tofu, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, natto, and traditional buttermilk.

2. Antioxidants
Free radicals are produced by the body when converting food into energy. These free radicals damage cells, cause disease, and aid in the aging process. The brain is at risk of cell damage by free radicals. Antioxidants help fight this process by neutralizing and disarming free radicals. Eating foods containing antioxidants are beneficial for brain health. Types of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, lycopene, lutein, selenium, zeaxanthin, phytoestrogens, catechins, polyphenols, flavones, and flavonoids. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and beta carotene include broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Nuts, seeds, wheat germ, vegetable oils, avocado, mango and kiwi are rich in vitamin E. Other foods rich in various antioxidants include grapes, blueberries, tea, coffee, dark chocolate, whole grains, beans, and fish.

3. Foods rich in protein
Proteins help the brain stay alert and boost energy. Low energy is a common symptom of depression and eating proteins can help relieve symptoms of fatigue. Beans, fish, milk, soy, peas, and lean meats are excellent sources of proteins.

4. Vitamin B
Many studies have found that depression is common among people with vitamin B deficiency. There are many vitamin B complex supplements, but foods enriched with vitamin B include whole grains, eggs, milk, cheese, red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids
People who don’t get enough Omega-3s are found to be more prone to depression and other mood disorders. In regions where people eat a lot of fish, depression is less common. Foods containing a lot of Omega-3s include tuna, salmon, sardines, oysters, and other fatty fish. Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, dark leafy green vegetables, and soybeans.