Fight Depression by Eating the Right Kind of Food

Once again, the evil disease called depression has been put in the spotlight because of Chester Bennington’s most recent suicide. Sadly, the Linkin Park lead singer took his own life on July 20, 2017.

Of course, his close family and friends were shocked. According to an official statement from Bennington’s remaining bandmates, “the shock waves of grief and denial are still sweeping through our family.” He appeared to be in his element, with his band just releasing a new music video a few hours before the suicide.

But that’s how depression works. It can fool everyone and can claim anyone.

What Is Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is defined as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.”

Depression affects around 1 person in 15 adults in any year. It can strike at any time, but it usually rears its ugly head during the late teens to midtwenties. This disease usually targets women.

What to Look Out For

The symptoms of depression can vary, from being mild to being severe. They include the following:

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or an increase of feeling fatigue
  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Changes in appetite (weight gain or or weight loss)
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., pacing back and forth, hand wringing, fidgeting)
  • Slowed movements and speech, which is observable by others
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Difficulty in thinking, concentrating, or decision making
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression Treatment

Luckily, depression is a treatable disease, one of the most treatable of the mental disorders. There are a number of methods in treating depression. First, certain medication may be administered. Antidepressants are prescribed in order to help modify a person’s brain chemistry.

Another way to fight depression is through psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, in particular, is very effective in treating depression. This method helps a person to recognize distorted and incorrect thinking. Eventually, it can then change the person’s actual behavior and thinking.

Some people also turn to electroconvulsive therapy. This is a medical treatment for patients who have severe major depression or bipolar disorder and have not responded well to the other treatments. This method includes a brief electrical stimulation of the brain.

Another way in fighting off depression is through a healthy and proper diet. I’m sure you’re surprised by this method, but it does work. There are some food that can indeed help fight against depression.

Let’s go ahead and discuss a few of them.

Fatty Fish

Fish such as bluefish, tuna, wild salmon, and mackerel are great choices. These are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These are very important for neurotransmitter function, which plays an important part in emotional and physiological brain balance.

In a study published in CNS Neuroscience Therapeutics, it shows that omega-3s had positive effects against depression. They significantly reduce depression symptoms by up to 50 percent.

The fatty acids also have specific brain-boosting properties that can fight against depression.  

Turkey

Now you have a reason to eat turkey the whole year round, and not just on Thanksgiving. Turkey possesses high levels of the amino acid tryptophan. This particular chemical helps greatly in serotonin production. Serotonin is a natural feel-good chemical that the body produces.

In addition, turkey also stimulates the production of melatonin. We need this for a good night’s sleep. When our bodies don’t have enough melatonin, it’ll be hard to fall asleep and to stay asleep the entire night.

And finally, this particular meat also has high phenylalanine content. This is another amino acid that converts to dopamine, and this helps boost mood and motivation.

Dark Leafy Vegetables

These veggies not only contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep your body healthy, they can help with feelings of depression as well.

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of the book The End of Dieting, these veggies have the most powerful immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. And based on a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, severe depression has been linked with brain inflammation.

Also, folate deficiency can lead to depressive symptoms. These dark leafy greens have enough folate to ward off those symptoms.

So go ahead and load up on kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and whatever else grabs your attention.

Berries

Go ahead and take your pick from raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries. All of these have very high antioxidant contents. Regularly eating these berries will give you significant low depression scores.

According to Karina Martinez-Mayorga, a research team leader, there are molecules in berries that show positive effects on mood. Some of these molecules are structurally similar to valproic acid. This acid is used to manage mood swings in people with bipolar disorder.

Other natural compounds in berries also have a resemblance to a widely used prescription mood-stabilizing drug.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great in maintaining your mental health. Their chemical properties oppose insulin, and this helps lower the levels of blood sugar. In turn, this evens out your mood.

Mushrooms also act like probiotics and promote healthy gut bacteria. Take note that the nerve cells in our gut produce around 80 percent to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin. So a happy gut means a more stable mental capacity.

Walnuts

Walnuts are another great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. There are numerous studies that demonstrate how omega-3 fatty acids support brain function and fight against depression. The symptoms will gradually decrease once you introduce walnuts into your daily diet.

Green Tea

Aside from having plenty of beneficial antioxidants that help fight against inflammation and free radicals that bring about diseases (yes, depression included), green tea has other depression-fighting properties as well.

The drink contains the amino acid theanine. This is naturally found in tea leaves, and it provides anti-stress and relaxation properties to those who drink green tea. Theanine reduces the symptoms of anxiety. It also counteracts the effects of caffeine. This boosts relaxed alertness and soothes the mind.  

St. John’s Wort

This herb helps fight mild to moderate depression as well as anxiety. Its effectivity can be compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are antidepressants. One bonus of St. John’s wort is that it has fewer side effects.

The herb has the ability to produce more serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. These three neurotransmitters boost mood and improve the symptoms of depression.

Please Get Help

Please, if you think that you’re all alone and no one can help and there’s no other way out, you’re wrong. The USA Suicide Prevention hotline is always open. And someone will always be there for you. Don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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