• Can Changes to Our Dietary Habits Prevent Depression?

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Jul 2nd, 2018

The facts are these: 16.2 million adults in the US have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. That’s 6.7% of all adults in the country, aged 18 and older. And according to the World Health Organization, 300 million people around the world have depression. Almost 75% of them remain untreated, while 1 million people end up taking their own lives each year.

As with every other disorder, treatment options can vary and when it comes to depression, they usually include sessions with a physiatrist, medication (Zoloft, Prozac, and antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Zyprexa), self-care (sleep and physical activity), and more recently ketamine infusions, which have shown promise in successfully treating depression.

However, over the past couple of years, some studies have gone on to prove that depression is directly linked to what we eat and don’t eat, i.e. our dietary habits and choices. Believe it or not, nutritional deficiencies can play a huge role when it comes to the well-being of our mental health.

Changing Your Diet to Fight Mood Disorders

A study posted to BMC Medicine demonstrated that a group of people with depression managed to improve their mood simply by changing their dietary habits and eating healthier food. The treatment diet during the study encouraged patients to eat solely whole foods, and forget all about refined foods, fried food, and sweets.

So, if this is the case, why aren’t more people with depression simply changing up their diets and getting better? Because not a lot of psychiatrists test for nutritional deficiencies before they decide what type of therapy would be the best for the patients, but the fact remains that they should. A simple change in a person’s diet could prevent a number of problems, including depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and other mental health disorders.

Nutrients and Foods That Could Reduce Symptoms of Depression

Before you go about changing your diet on your own, it’s better to consult a doctor and have them test your for nutritional deficiencies. Once you know which nutrients you are low on, you’ll be able to adjust your eating habits and start leading a healthier life which will affect signs of depression you’ve been experiencing.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids—A study posted to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry showed that people with lower Omega-3 acids might have a higher chance to end up with a depressive disorder. If you need to improve your Omega-3s, your diet should include cold water fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel), flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds, and nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds).

2. Vitamin D—Lack of vitamin D in your body has been associated with a number of mood disorders, including depression. The best way to get your necessary vitamin D intake is to expose your body to the sun. There are, of course, many supplements you could use, plus tuna, salmon, and mackerel are also sources of vitamin D.

3. Vitamin B—Both Vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (folate) have been linked to a reduced risk of mood disorders. Sources of vitamin B include eggs, meat, fish, poultry, oysters, milk, whole and grains, plus dark, leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, fruit, etc.

4. Selenium—If your nutrient deficiency test results show low selenium levels in your body, what you want to do is start eating whole grains, Brazil nuts, certain seafood, and liver.

5. Antioxidants—Foods rich in antioxidants are also believed to reduce signs of depression and stress-related symptoms of various psychiatric disorders. Everyday antioxidants include vitamin E, C, and A (beta-carotene).

6. Zinc—Zinc levels have been known to be lower in people with clinical depression, while zinc supplements can improve the effectiveness of antidepressants. Zinc is usually found in supplements, but also whole grains, beans, oysters, and nuts.

7. Proteins—Getting an adequate protein intake is essential for a number of things in our bodies, not just fighting depression, but some foods may be more helpful when it comes to the latter. Tuna, turkey, and chickpeas all have good levels of tryptophan, which is used in forming serotonin. This is important because lack of serotonin was once thought to be a major cause of depression.

Naturally, adjustments in your diet present one promising step in treating depression, but this should most definitely not be seen as the only step needed. Always make sure to work directly with a doctor and decide which treatment would work for you the best.

 

Dr. Best and the Neuroscience Center team have years of experience working with depression patients, and can offer their advice and assistance in helping you or your loved ones find the best solution for this devastating disorder.

 

Schedule your consultation today:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

Author Caroline Ryther

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