Food cannot fix your depression

How’s your mood? Thursday, October 5, 2017, is National Depression Screening Day.

It’s a day to get help with feeling sad or anxious and to start feeling better and improving your mood.

Too many people don’t get the help they need.

They turn to substances to try to feel happier and/or calmer. Alcohol, drugs – both purchased with prescriptions or illegally on the street – and risky behavior such as gambling or promiscuous sex are among the more common and self-destructive ways people try to treat their depression.

Another far more common way people try to improve their mood is with food.

The kind of food people use as a mood lifter is usually not the same kinds of food we equate with nutritious. Food used to treat depression tends to be highly processed, full of sugar, fat, and therefore calories. Typically is nutritionally void and calorie dense and the relief is so fleeting that people tend to keep eating to try to achieve a feeling of well-being.

Trying to improve a bad mood with food is a bad idea.

Emotional eating leads to obesity. The links between physical health and obesity are clear and understood. Not every obese individual is physically unhealthy, but many suffer from emotional health.

Psychological consequences of being overweight or obese can include lowered self-esteem and anxiety, and more serious disorders such as depression and eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia and anorexia.

It’s not surprising that food is a way people use to treat depression although their choice of foods are destructive and make depression worse. Some foods, however, naturally raise seretonin and can help to fight depression. They’re not the foods you crave when you feel like you need a lift, but they’re the foods when eaten as a regular part of your diet can naturally boost your feel good chemicals in your brain.

You may look at that list and think, “yuck.” You don’t need to eat all the foods on the list, and there are more such as, eggs, turkey, pineapple, cheese and tofu.

When you are trying to treat depression, magnesium and the B Vitamins are important. Vitamins B3 and B6 are especially potent. Healthy fats are also effective and often avoided because of the higher calorie content. That’s a common mistake believing that “eating fat makes you fat.”

An other mood-boosting nutrient is resveratrol and it’s from dark skinned fruits like grapes. The grapes, by the way, need not be liquified and fermented to do the happy-making trick. All kidding aside, alcohol including wine, is a depressant.

Maybe you’re having trouble controlling your eating and have been gaining weight. If you are experiencing cravings for fatty, sugary, salty foods and eating too much of such foods too often, you may be trying to self-medicate depression with food. Food won’t make your depression better, and gaining weight can certainly intensify it.

On Thursday, October 5, 2017 you can get free screenings for depression. Even if you don’t think you have depression, if you eat to feel better, it’s worth taking advantage of the free screening.


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.