People feel sad at times and they could feel depressed as a normal coping mechanism to loss, life challenges, and/or a damaged self-worth. While these feelings of melancholy, along with sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, may last for several days or weeks, some people fail to cope and move on. The behavior is viewed as clinical depression, a medical condition that can be treated.
According to DSM-5 Manual (via WebMD), which is used to relate symptoms and diagnose mental disorders, depression takes place when a person meets a combination of at least five of the following symptoms:
- fatigue or loss of energy
- insomnia or inability to sleep
- a depressed mood in the morning or most of the day
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- a sense of restlessness
- recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- impaired concentration
- significant weight loss or weight gain
- reduced interest or pleasure in activities
While there are medications that can help fight depression, the condition can also be alleviated through nutrition.
Nutritional biochemist and “Vigor: 7 Days to Unlimited Energy, Focus, and Well-Being” author Shawn Talbott, PhD, told Every Day Health that foods like whole grains, lean proteins, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, should be consumed when one was feeling blue, and not sweet, salty, and fatty foods. According to Talbot, eating nutrient-rich foods provide boosted levels of energy as well as sharper mental focus.
Life coach, behaviorist, and “Thinking Your Way To Happy!” author Robin H-C also told Every Day Health that turkey was the best food he knew that could fight depression. According to H-C, turkey had high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that activates the production of serotonin, a natural chemical that promotes a person’s well-being.
According to Dr. Joel Furhman (via Yahoo Health), author of the book “Eat to Live,” green leafy vegetables should be eaten to fight depression. Furhman considers dark leafy greens as the “most nutrient-dense” among other food choices. He also described these vegetables as “foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anticancer effects” in his book entitled “The End of Dieting.” According to Furhman, these foods aid the prevention of cellular aberration or transformation of normal cells into cancer cells while keeping the body’s defense boosted and prepared for any attacks from both precancerous and cancerous cells. In fact, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry (via Every Day Health) founded that severe depression had been linked with brain inflammation and leafy greens could help control the inflammation with vitamins A, C, E, K, along with minerals and phytochemicals.
Fish, particularly anchovies, tuna, and salmon could also be incorporated in the diet to manage depression. According to Healthline, these foods are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to an improved function of the brain, thus, describing them as “brain food.” Other food choices that have high content of omega-3 fatty acids include nuts, canola, flaxseed oils, and dark green leafy vegetables, several studies have shown. According to the publication, seafoods are also rich in selenium, an element that is vital for good health. Several studies have found that selenium deficiency is related to depression and some studies have indicated that taking selenium may reduce the feelings of depression. While selenium can fight depression, it can be toxic to the body; so, it is important to consult a doctor before taking selenium supplements.
Aside from eating foods that combat depression, one may also deal with depression by having adequate exercise and rest, practicing relaxation techniques, managing stress, challenging negative thought patterns, and developing supportive relationships, as per Help Guide.
When one feels depressed, he should consider reaching out for help of talking to somebody. Lifestyle changes can be quite challenging, but they do have a significant impact on depression.