woman choosing healthy food to improve mental health

Can Certain Foods Help Depression and Anxiety?

If you’ve ever had one too many cups of coffee and felt your heart racing soon after, you may have noticed the connection between food and mood. After all, a racing heart can lead to racing thoughts and panic attacks. Similarly, increased caffeine intake can cause a lack of sleep and depressed mood the next day.

Caffeine is not the only thing at your table that can affect how you feel. Every time you eat a meal or snack, you change your body chemistry in several ways. These choices can either fight or feed mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.

Sometimes, anxiety and depression make people want to eat unhealthy foods or skip eating altogether. These disordered behaviors can worsen their anxiety and depression, which leads to a destructive cycle. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone, and you should know that help is available.

Choosing mood-boosting foods can help you start to turn the cycle around. While diet may not heal mental illness alone, it can play an essential role in supporting your other treatments, such as medication or therapy.

Are There Actually Foods That Fight Depression & Anxiety?

Sometimes deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, other patients develop mental illness first and eat in unhealthy patterns as a symptom of the disorder. Regardless of which came first, you can break the cycle by choosing mood-boosting foods in your meals.

People develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies for several reasons. Some people simply do not eat enough foods with these nutrients. However, others have undiagnosed physical illnesses that keep their bodies from absorbing nutrients. In either case, patients can go to their primary care doctors to discover if they have low levels of any of the following nutrients:

  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B
  • Folate
  • Selenium
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid
  • Magnesium

A significant lack in any one of these nutrients can cause symptoms of anxiety or depression. If you find that you have deficiencies in any of the nutrients on this list, try to include more foods that are high in those things. If you have more than one deficiency or a severe lack in one, you may consider supplements as directed by your doctor.

Why Changing Your Daily Behavior is Important

While diet changes can impact your mood and there are some foods that fight depression, these changes are rarely enough on their own. Instead, patients should consider diet changes as just one tool in the depression-fighting kit. Other healing strategies include:

If you or someone you love shows signs of depression or anxiety, don’t go it alone. Contact a therapist today and we can connect you with compassionate professionals who can help.