Depression Diet
Managing Nutrition May Help

A depression diet can be one factor in helping manage this serious illness. 

The world health organisation currently rates depression as the leading cause of disease burden amongst high income countries and estimates that by the year 2030 it will be the leading cause of disability worldwide. Sadly at least one in five Australians experience depression or anxiety in some form throughout their lives.

Characterised by feelings of overpowering helplessness, worthlessness or guilt, depression has many physical symptoms too; including poor concentration, loss of energy, fatigue, thoughts of suicide, loss or increase of appetite and weight and a disturbed sleep pattern.

Depression is an often unexplained and incredibly debilitating condition, there are many factors that can contribute to the development of depression such as genetic predisposition, psychological issues or biochemical imbalances, and triggers such as major stress or trauma.

However there are also a number of nutritional imbalances that can make you prone to depression too. As pharmaceutical and psychological treatments for depression are often poorly insufficient, current research is focusing on nutritional treatment and prevention measures.

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Check out our Diet and Depression page for meal plans

Alarmingly there is increasing evidence too, to support the theory that the traditional western diet may indeed be responsible for this global mental health epidemic we are witnessing. We are all aware of the positive health benefits a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise can have upon our bodies but studies are showing this may be just as important for our minds too.

What we eat can have a massive impact upon the way we feel, and the way we function. Many processed and refined foods lack essential nutrients that support the body's repair, growth, and wellness.

B vitamins are essential for normal nervous system function and often considered “anti-stress” nutrients, helping to relieve anxiety and treat depression. Niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid (B9) all work with the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical.

Serotonin is actually the neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel content and is manufactured by the body using the amino acid tryptophan, which too must be supplied through the diet.

Consider the Mediterranean diet,
a well-balanced eating style

Tryptophan is also needed to produce melatonin, which is vital for normal sleep cycles. Low serotonin levels are directly linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. Low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids may also contribute to the development of depression. Fishing is actually an essential part of life! These good fats are needed to build the brain’s neural connections as well as the receptor sites for neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

A healthy balanced diet may help as part of an overall treatment for depression, fresh foods supply us with essential nutrients, antioxidants and natural endorphins. A poor diet high in refined sugary foods can create dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels further leading to mood and energy imbalances.

A depression diet is only part of the puzzle

The cure or prevention of depression is no easy path with a straight forward diet to follow, but by managing factors within our control we may be able to relieve the pressure upon those we cannot. If you are in crisis, or struggling with depression, we strongly recommend you get in contact with a crisis line such as life line, your doctor, therapist or a hospital immediately.

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