Severe and clinical forms of depression may not easily go away, but lifestyle strategies to naturally improve one’s mood should include eating a healthy diet. Your body needs access to various vitamins and nutrients to function well and feel good; your mental health being no exception.
Maintaining a nutrient-rich diet week in and week out will give you the best chance of success, but here are ten specific foods you can consider implementing into your diet as needed.
Healthy proteins like lean meats & nuts
In studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help reduce anxiety and feelings of being down. The American Psychiatric Association has even endorsed fish fatty acids as part of an effective treatment plan for minimizing depression. Tuna also has tyrosine, an amino acid that boosts chemicals in your brain to help you feel more alert and more able to concentrate.
Severe depression often interferes with your ability to sleep, which only exacerbates your mental health situation. Foods like turkey are known for helping us sleep better on the night of Thanksgiving and that’s because the meat contains an essential amino acid named tryptophan, which regulates our sleep hormones.
Those who regularly deal with insomnia are often deficient in this amino acid so eating more of this meat really can do wonders. Like tuna, turkey also has tyrosine to further help alleviate the blues and other properties that can also help increase feelings of well-being and happiness.
With omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are a great option, especially for those who hate the taste of fish or have other reasons for not eating meat. A deficit in omega-3s has been associated with depression while a high consumption of the fatty acids has been linked to a reduced prevalence of major depressive disorder.
Nutrient-rich fruits & vegetables
In studies, tomatoes have been linked to lessen the chances of suffering from depression when participants included the fresh produce in their diets a couple of times a week. An antioxidant known as lycopene is what gives tomatoes their color and may be what provides protection against depression, but more research is needed before conclusive answers can be formed.
Depression can actually be a symptom of a folate deficiency so healthful picks like spinach and cabbage can be great sources of folic acid. Additional nutrients like vitamin C help arm your body with free radicals that fight against oxidative stress and offer additional health benefits for your overall well-being.
Providing omega-3 fatty acids and folate, avocados are also a great option when trying to fight depression with a healthy diet. When baking, replace half of the called-for fat like butter or margarine with equal parts of avocado and enjoy the difference.
The fructose in this popular yellow fruit can boost your energy, fill you up and provide vitamins that help you produce serotonin, a component commonly seen in antidepressant medications. To reduce your feelings of stress or anxiety, make sure to eat a banana every now and then.
Tasty treats like dark chocolate & yogurt
Sometimes when you’re dealing with depression, you don’t feel like eating at all so it can be hard to will yourself to down a handful of nuts or a serving of tuna. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, may be a nice pick-me-up that you don’t have to work too hard to convince yourself of consuming.
The yummy dessert food has mood-boosting and pleasure-inducing properties, but you probably don’t need scientists to tell you that. Chocolate also contains relaxing and calming elements which can further soothe your condition. The calorie-dense food is no diet freebie, though, so watch your portions.
Like turkey, yogurt actually contains tryptophan and tyrosine so can help increase your brain’s happiness on a chemical level. Certain probiotic bacteria may also be able to decrease anxiety and help clear your mind. Calcium and vitamin D can also play a role in helping induce a relaxed sensation for your body.
Whole grains like oatmeal provide complex carbohydrates that help your body release serotonin for a natural mood-boosting effect. A lack of selenium has been linked to poorer moods so oatmeal can help on that front as well. The healthy, high-fiber option will also help keep your body on track overall.
When you are craving carbs, sometimes that’s your body telling you that you’re running low on serotonin so make wise decisions when introducing picks like oatmeal and shunning simple carbs like cakes and cookies.
Things to avoid
When you’re feeling down and trying to use alternative medicine strategies to naturally enhance your mood, remember that avoiding the bad stuff can sometimes have just as positive of an effect as intaking the good stuff when your overall wellness is concerned. Consuming caffeine, fatty junk food and alcohol can leave your body and mind worse off than you were before.
Many prescription medicines can also affect your depression for the worse so understand the side effects of what you’re taking and talk with your doctor about alternative treatments if your depression is getting out of hand. It can be dangerous to abruptly stop taking your medicine so be sure to consult with a medical professional before changing your routine on your own.
Obviously, additional sources of stress and anxiety will only worsen your current condition so try to avoid putting yourself into too demanding of circumstances. Talk with a counselor or other specialist about what you’re going through and try to work through any emotional disorders that can be lessened. You can also implement a regular exercise program to help your mind and brain feel at their best.
Even when you’re dealing with a mental health problem that cannot be completely cured, there are often treatment plans that can help lessen the severity of your situation. Talk with a medical professional or spiritual adviser so you don’t have to fight this problem on your own. Locate relevant resources so that you can make the most of your circumstances.
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