Most people wrongly assume that a poor diet affects their physical health, but not their mental health. The popular phrase “you are what you eat” did not come out of thin air! If you supply your body with poor fuel, you will feel poor! The types of food you eat can dramatically affect your mental health, especially if you have a pre-existing mental health condition, such as depression.
Depression is a mental health issue that effects many people in society, many who have not been diagnosed. There are numerous symptoms related to depression, including loss of appetite, sadness, anxiety, loss of interest in activities, and a saddened mood. If people who suffer from depression do not get help, there is the potential for many unfortunate consequences, including suicide.
Most who suffer from depression do not get the proper nutrition. This may be due to their lack of appetite, or it could be due to poor food choices. A cycle of less than ideal nutrition can lead to more depression, which leads to more poor food choices, and so on.
The diets of depressed individuals are typically lacking many important vitamins and minerals including: omega-3 fatty acids, tyrosine, and tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and when taken on an empty stomach is converted into serotonin, which will induce tranquility and sleep. Tyrosine is converted into dopamine in the body, which helps to control the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are most commonly found in fish, have been found to reduce the incidences of mental disorders, including depression. While up to 2 grams of the omga-3 fatty acids is a healthy dose for healthy individuals, people who have shown signs of mental illness can benefit from taking up to 6.9 grams a day.
If you would like to improve your mental health through your diet, or would like assistance dealing with depression, contact Community Presbyterian Counseling Center in San Ramon, California.