Diet for Depression: Foods to Avoid, Anti-Depression Supplements, Foods to Beat Depression

Depression is a condition that has a frequent occurrence in people all over the world. When you have depression, you will be sad and unhappy for more than few weeks. If you are depressed, you will be in a miserably sad state and become absolutely hopeless about life. People with this mental condition are often seen to have lost all interest from life and be unhappy about everything. One can be depressed due to some personal loss, career impairment and other reasons.

Although it occurs in men as well as women, who are mostly in their middle ages, there is a slight more occurrence of depression in women. In the United States of America, depression is seen to occur in one in every 10 people. The reasons or causes associated with this condition that make you more likely to have this mental condition are –

  • Age between 45 to 64 years
  • If you are female in gender
  • If you are suffering from chronic health problems like diabetesarthritis or heart problem
  • Are on medication
  • If you are overweight and inactive
  • If you smoke, drink and lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

If depression becomes too severe, it will lead to cause physical difficulties such as fatigue, appetite loss, sleeping difficulties and muscle aches and disrupt daily functions. Recent studies have associated the lack of a few nutrients as a cause of depression and hence, have come up with diets that can be effective in curing depression.

Diet for People with Depression

Foods to Avoid in Depression

Before you know about what to eat to elevate your mood and get rid of depression, you must know what you must avoid to eat if you are in depression, since they significantly contribute in increasing your depression level. These are –

Diet for People with Depression

  • Avoid Refined Sugar if you are in Depression– This can increase your blood glucose level significantly and cause a sugar hangover that might be disruptive for the mood. In fact, it can also cause your energy level to deplete and therefore, as a result, sleep disorders may ensue.
  • Better to Avoid Processed Food if in Depression– This too has a similar impact on your mood just as the refined sugar. Processed and refined carbohydrates can cause an increase in the blood insulin level and hence, irritation, fatigue and constant feeling of blue can be a possible after effect.
  • Foods with High Sodium Content to be Avoided in Depression– High amounts of sodium have a significantly bad impact on the neurological system as well as immune response. As a result, fatigue and depression can be pressing problems.
  • People in Depression Should Avoid Aspartame and Other Artificial Sweeteners– As the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin is blocked by the artificial sweeteners, it can cause mood swings, insomnia and headaches, leading to depression.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine if in Depression– Although depressed people often tend to consume more alcohol, the fact is that alcohol itself is a depressant that can lead you to a disrupted mood and depression. This is because it affects the central nervous system that controls reasoning, motor function and senses. A good amount of daily consumption of caffeine can also be a cause of tremor, agitation, nervousness and depression.

Hence, if you are consistently consuming any of these and have found depressive tendencies and symptoms in you, you must at first stop taking them or try to avoid them as much as possible. Once you have done that, only then the other diet supplements and natural foods will be able to reduce depression.

Different Kinds of Anti-Depression Supplements:

Recent studies have proven how different nutritional supplements can be effective in improving mood and reducing depression. The supplements that are very useful in this purpose are –

  • Folic Acid-A Useful Supplement for Depression: Folate deficiency is a common cause of depression. Hence, having folic acid supplements is a very useful way of reducing depression. When women, who are on an anti-depressant medication of Placebo or Prozac, are given a combined treatment of folic acid supplements, 95% of them responded to a quick recovery. 400 mcg of folic acid supplements are recommended to be consumed per day.
  • Vitamin B-6 Supplement for Depression: To eliminate the symptoms such as irritability, confusion and other signs of depression, a daily intake of 1.3 milligrams of this vitamin per day is recommended. The reason why it is effective is that the Vitamin B-6 supplements also contain certain enzymes that produce the mood regulating chemicals called serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
  • Vitamin B-12: For proper mood regulation and a healthy body, this vitamin plays a very important role and hence, a supplement of this vitamin every day is a very useful one. Although there is no scientific evidence to this, but still, it has been effective in most cases where other anti-depressant medications haven’t been useful.
  • Other B Vitamins: Vitamins B1, B3 and B5 are also very useful in reducing depression, since they reduce fatigue, slowness and anxiety.
  • Vitamin D: SAD or seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression, is associated with the deficiency of vitamin D, as per the reports of the University of Maryland Medical Center. Studies have shown that during the months of winter, when there is less sunlight and less Vitamin D production in this season, depression occurs more frequently. Vitamin D supplements can be very useful as a part of your diet for depression.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Supplements for Depression: These fatty acids that can be found from sea fish like tuna and salmon as well as from corn and soybean oils are very effective in reducing depression as they help in the function of serotonin and dopamine, the mood controllers in the brain.
  • St. John’s Wort for Depression: This herbal supplement is very effective for bipolar disorder and severe depression. However, if you are already on an anti-depressant medication, it should not be given.
  • GABA: Gamma-aminobutyric acid relaxes and calms the nervous system. However, these anti-depressants should be taken only if the doctor recommends and in a dosage recommended by the doctor, since neurotransmitters can be very addictive.

Foods to Beat Depression:

There are certain foods that are very effective in fighting off the inflammation in the brain. As inflammation is a main reason or cause of depression, it is very useful and effective for you to eliminate depression, if you incorporate those ingredients in your diet that can fight brain inflammation. The effect of this diet is a healthy mood and feeling better. All the anti-depressant supplements that are already mentioned above, can be naturally received from these food ingredients.

  • Dark leafy greens: The most nutrient-dense foods of all time that are healthiest in every possible way are the dark leafy greens. These include kale, spinach and Swiss chard. These are highly rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, certain phytochemicals and minerals that reduce brain inflammation and are associated with relief from depression.
  • Berries: The highest antioxidant foods that you can get are raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Studies have shown that those, who have taken berries consistently for two years, have had a remarkably low depression score.
  • Certain fruits like avocado and apples: Avocado is rich in a mono-saturated fat, namely oleic acid, Vitamin B and Vitamin C. Apples on the other hand can repair and prevent inflammation on the cellular level and oxidation damage. Both are useful in reducing depression, caused by brain inflammation.
  • Seeds: Flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These help in reducing depression.
  • Nuts: Walnuts and cashews are good as anti-depressant foods. Walnuts contain polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acid like alpha-linolenic acid. Cashews have a good store of zinc, a mineral that is useful in reducing depression. Both should be present in your diet for reducing depression.
  • Allium vegetables: All the allium vegetables like garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and spring onions have high concentrations of anti-inflammatory flavonoid antioxidants that can also lift your mood and help with depression along with preventing cancer.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain good concentration of folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid that fight depression. Folic acid prevents homocysteine, which restricts the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Hence, in this way, Tomatoes aids in the production of these neurotransmitters and thereby, can lift your mood and help with depression.
  • Mushroom: This plays a very important role in maintaining good mood and helps us get rid of depression. Mushrooms can even your mood by opposing insulin production. It also works as a probiotic, promoting gut bacteria. Since gut manufactures 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin, mushroom is a must have in the diet.

However, along with these dietary supplements and inclusion of these food items in the diet for depression, one must also maintain a healthy lifestyle. Elimination of smoking and drinking habits is a must as caffeine and alcohol can reduce serotonin and increase the risk of depression and anxiety. Moreover, if the doctor recommends anti-depressant drugs and medicines, they should also be continued, along with these dietary changes.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 18, 2019

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