Diet against depression: what to include in the diet?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that causes negative thoughts and behavior. Many patients are looking for natural and natural methods of treating such a condition – adherence to a diet is one of them. Of course, nutrition cannot be regarded as a treatment, but the inclusion or, on the contrary, the exclusion of certain foods can help control symptoms, which has been proven by several studies.

The role of diet in the control of depression

Until recently, the link between nutrition and depression was not fully appreciated. But studies have shown that patients adhering to the rules of healthy eating improved their mood, and they managed to control symptoms and   signs of depression.

Diet meant the inclusion in the diet of a large number of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and the complete exclusion of convenience foods, fast food, as well as the restriction of sweets. Patients who adhered to the recommendations of nutritionists, noted a decrease in the signs of depression in comparison with the participants of the control group. Moreover, in 32% of the patients studied, the symptoms disappeared altogether and   depression   moved into a stable remission.

The role of vitamins and other substances

In preparing the diet, nutritionists did not take into account the products themselves, but the substances in them, namely   vitamins, minerals, acids, etc.


Studies have shown that selenium can reduce the symptoms of depression. Its deficiency is associated with bad mood and even irritability. The source of selenium is nuts, seafood, whole-wheat flour, meat and offal.


Vitamin D deficiency is known to be associated with many mood disorders, including depression. Filling the deficit is an important component of treatment. Doctors recommend walking more often, because vitamin is produced by the body, but only under the action of sunlight.

Additional sources of vitamin are fatty fish, fish liver, fortified foods, eggs, etc. The doctor may recommend taking supplements and multivitamins.

B vitamins also play a huge role in the prevention of depression. Especially dangerous in terms of the development of depression is vitamin B12 and B9 deficiency. To cover the needs and replenish stocks in the diet should include:

  • eggs;
  • meat;
  • fish and seafood;
  • milk products;
  • leafy vegetables;
  • fruits.

A full and varied diet is the best opportunity to ensure the supply of all the necessary vitamins and minerals to combat depression and not only.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Thanks to research, it was possible to prove that those who consume insufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have higher rates of depressive disorders. Their sources are:

  • some types of fish and seafood;
  • vegetable oils;
  • nuts.

But the level of these compounds can be affected by the quality of the products. Some of the studies have shown that people on a Mediterranean diet are less likely to suffer not only from heart and vascular disease, but also from depression.


Their main task is to fight free radicals that can damage cells and cause problems such as aging, inflammation and even complete cell death. It is noteworthy that it is the brain that is more susceptible to the action of free radicals.

Researchers suggest that the inclusion of foods rich in antioxidants in the diet will help control mood and prevent depression.


Depressed patients have lower levels of zinc in the blood. It is known that the inclusion in the diet of foods rich in zinc, will help increase the effectiveness of antidepressants. Zinc can be found in some seafood, nuts and legumes.

What products to exclude?

In addition to healthy foods that contain vitamins, minerals, there are those that need to be excluded from the diet or at least significantly reduce their consumption:

  • Caffeine

If depression is accompanied by anxiety, anxiety, it is important to avoid caffeine, and in any concentration. The abuse of caffeine-containing foods contributes to sleep disturbance, and this is one of the factors that can aggravate the condition.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol abuse can aggravate the symptoms of depression. And this is not an option, and “medicine”, as many think. In some patients, alcohol abuse can cause panic attacks and significant deterioration.

  • Sweets

Often, patients literally seize depression, with cakes, pastries and other sweets. Foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates can contribute to mood swings and worsen depression symptoms.

What do you need besides diet?

Researchers remind that there is no definite and strict diet that can cope with the symptoms of depression. It is enough to adhere to the principles and rules of proper nutrition, include more fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet, you can not refuse fish and meat.

In the course of numerous studies, it was possible to establish that food control and a reasonable approach to the preparation of a diet significantly reduce the symptoms of depression, but, unfortunately, does not affect increased anxiety. Therefore, it is impossible to do without consulting a doctor and appropriate treatment.

But besides nutrition, you need to change your lifestyle. Brandon Stubbs of King’s College London emphasizes the importance of exercise and an active lifestyle. Studies have shown that with a combination of even moderate exertion and diet, the symptoms of depression disappeared more quickly, and the patients’ condition improved, as they say, before their eyes. Particularly revealing results were in groups where workouts were held in a team, and not just in the gym.

When do you need specialist help?

Changing the diet for depression, lifestyle changes and exercise is a serious and promising step in treatment, but it is not enough to stabilize the condition. Only a doctor can help cope with the disorder: psychotherapy, help in understanding your feelings and finding a way out of this situation will help get rid of unpleasant symptoms.

Treatment tactics and recommendations are given exclusively on an individual basis and depend on many factors.

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