Over 17 million Americans struggle daily with depression. The most common symptoms of depression include sadness, anxiety, and sudden change in appetite, insomnia, fatigue, restlessness, and trouble concentrating. Fortunately, relief may be as close as the kitchen. It is becoming clear that the foods we eat may play a crucial role in preventing, treating, or exacerbating the troublesome symptoms of depression. As more and more Americans seek low cost alternatives to high risk- pharmaceuticals, and empowerment through knowledge the search for a healing diet is more popular that ever. The foods below ease the symptoms of depression by nourishing not only the body, but the entire holistic being.
Citrus: Oranges, Limes, and Lemonade
In addition to their ample stores of vitamin c, citrus fruits can play a powerful role in the treatment of depression. Citrus fruits are particularly effective at treating seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Sad is a form of depression most common during long winter months, when sunlight is limited. One of the best ways to counteract the wintertime blues is to sip a nice tall glass of lemonade, or enjoy a juicy orange. Citrus treats evoke summer time images of warm sandy beaches and bright green grass. In the midst of darkness, they transport us to brighter, happier seasons. Citrus helps to remind us that even in times of darkness and despair, life carries the promise of better tomorrow. In this way they help to restore one’s sunny disposition.
Whole Grain Rice, Salmon, Breakfast Cereals, Baked goods, Tuna Fish, Milk
Consuming foods rich in vitamin D, such as those listed above, may help to ward off a winter slump. As mentioned before winter time depression is often linked to the lack of sunshine. The suns glorious rays are our primary source of Vitamin D. During the winter, particularly in cold climates, we become vulnerable to vitamin deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency often shows itself in the form of wintertime blues. Fortunately, it is easy to counteract these effects by consuming whole grain rice, breakfast cereals, or delightful homemade baked goods.
Bean Sprouts, Tempeh, and Animal Protein
Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, has been used as a treatment for depression. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 may affect ones energy levels, nervous system, and state of mind. As the deficiency worsens, one may experience soreness, or weakness of the limbs. It is easy to see how a Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to depression, tiredness, mental slowness, and inactivity. Sources of cobalamin include largely animal proteins such as meat, fish, egg yolk, and milk products. Vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 include tempeh, sprouts, or vitamin supplements.
Leafy Greens, Starchy Vegetables, Bean Sprouts, Wheat Germ and Soy Flour
What do all these delightful foods have in common? They are all fresh and unprocessed. They are also good sources of folic acid. Folic acid may be useful to fight depression. Deficiency of folic acid follows a very similar pathway as deficiency of vitamin b12. Telltale symptoms include anemia, fatigue, irritability, headache, weight loss, forgetfulness and paranoia.
Carrot Juice, Whole Carrots
Whole carrots, and more concentrated carrot juice, are wonderfully rich sources of calcium, magnesium, and a variety of B vitamins. This combination of nutrients is ideal for alleviating stress placed on the adrenal system. Adrenal stress is a common cause of depression symptoms.
Black Currant Jam, Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed oil, Flax Seed, Olive Oil
The best sources of gamma linolenic acid are evening primrose, black currant seeds, and borage. Gamma-linolenic acid or GLA is very similar in structure and function to the Omega-6 essential fatty acids. It can be used to treat depression, when the cause has been shown to be a deficiency of GLA. Omega 3 fatty acids, such as those found in flax seed work in a similar fashion. These vital nutrients calm and balance hormones, which is often a culprit in the development of depression, particularly in women.
Sugar Cane, Seaweed
These foods contain lithium salts. Lithium has traditionally been used to treat manic-depression.
Peanuts, Dried Peas and Beans, Avocados, Dates, Figs, and Prunes, Wheat Germ, Whole Grains
As Vitamin b3 or niacin deficiency progresses it can create obvious neurological symptoms. Among those most common, is depression. If an individual’s depression is caused by a niacin deficiency, then consuming a variety of the foods listed immediately above may prove quite beneficial. Other signals of niacin deficiency include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and psychosis.
Nuts and Seeds, Potatoes, Corn and Legumes, Turkey, Eggs and Dairy Products, Bananas
These foods all contain varying amounts of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a building block in the formation of serotonin. Serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter with a great deal of influence over our both of mood, and sleep cycles. As a result, tryptophan rich foods can be very helpful in the management of insomnia and depression. Tryptophan has clear antidepressant qualities. It is most effect in treating depressions involving mania or menopause.
Foods to Avoid:
Certain foods create sudden and extreme fluxuation in our blood sugar, and therefore should be avoided. These are mostly highly processed “junk” foods, which are high in sugar and fat, and low in nutrition. Examples include coffee, soda, cookies, cakes, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. Additionally, it would be wise to avoid foods high fat foods, which have the potential to disrupt brain chemicals, particularly those high in trans fats. During this time of transition, your body needs gently, healing foods for nourishment and support. The best foods to do this job are natural whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
If you are experiencing depression, reach out to friend or family member. In addition, be sure to consult your health care provider. Do not continue to suffer in silence. Depression is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment. We all find ourselves within the dark walls of depression, to varying degrees, at one time in our lives or another. Depression can be overcome with both dignity and grace.
While mild depression may be treated at home, more severe cases may require professional intervention. The longer depression goes untreated, the more severe the symptoms may become. The solution may be very simple indeed. Whether you are currently in the throws of depression, or have fallen victim to its grasp in the past, consider including a variety of these depression-fighting foods in your diet. After all, prevention is the best medicine, and what better medicine than delicious, natural foods, pure air, clean water, and laughter.