Mental Health

Can Diet Improve Depression Symptoms?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on - 22 February 2023, Updated on - 20 April 2023

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It’s common knowledge that sticking to a nutritious diet is one of the best ways of ensuring good health. Eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, and poultry items can prove to be quite helpful in reducing your risk of developing several physical ailments. But, what about mental health? Well, research shows that a good diet can help treat the symptoms of depression. Let us know more about it in this blog.

Diet is a vital component of mental health. In fact, it's so important that there is an entire field of medicine known as nutritional psychiatry, which focuses on the effect of diet on mental well-being. 

Researchers discovered that taking a healthy diet is associated with a considerably lower risk of developing depression. Sometimes, people suffering from depression, eat junk food to help them cope and feel better. However, this ends up having a negative impact on their health as it exacerbates the problem. The more you eat, the more your weight increases, thereby triggering a sense of guilt afterwards.

Which foods can help with depression?

Exercising regularly and taking a healthy diet can help you manage the symptoms of depression or even cure them completely. Furthermore, a study found that the symptoms of those suffering from moderate-to-severe depression got better when they underwent nutritional counselling and took a healthy diet for 12 weeks. Here is a list of foods that can help you manage the symptoms of depression:

1. Healthy carbs

Carbohydrates trigger your brain to produce serotonin, the mood-lifting neurotransmitter. It’s advisable to eat the right type of carbs when the cravings hit instead of avoiding carbohydrates altogether. You can gain the goodness of carbs from foods like whole-grain bread, vegetables, fruits, and foods rich in fibre. 

2. Omega-3s

One of the major advantages of omega-3 fatty acids is that they help improve your brain function. Many studies have found that foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids can help in managing the symptoms of depression. Some of the omega-3-rich foods include nuts, fish, canola oil, leafy vegetables, and flaxseed oil. 

3. Vitamin D

According to numerous studies, people with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to suffer from depression symptoms. You can get vitamin D by consuming foods like tofu, milk, and fish. 

4. Selenium

Some studies have shown that an increase in the intake of selenium can help deal with the symptoms. Some of the foods rich in this element include seafood, lean meat, beans, whole grains, and nuts. 

5. Antioxidants

Intake of foods packed with antioxidants can help reduce the destructive effect of free radicals, which can otherwise vital organs such as the brain. Vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants. Some of the foods you can eat to increase the level of antioxidants in your body include broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, grapefruit, tomato, nuts, wheat germ, and blueberries. 

Foods to avoid

Certain foods that can negatively affect your mental health and worsen the symptoms of depression include:

1. Sugary foods and caffeine

While sugar can boost your energy levels initially, it stays for a short period of time, followed by a sudden drop in energy. Caffeine, on the other hand, makes you anxious and disrupts your sleep patterns.

2. Alcohol and drugs

Many people turn to alcohol and self-medication when they are depressed. While these solutions may offer short-term relief, they only make things worse in the long run. They can disrupt your sleep cycle and result in anxiety and mood swings.

When it comes to improving your mental and physical well-being, sticking to a healthy diet can go a long way. If you feel like your depressive symptoms continue to worsen, then talk to a doctor right away. It’s just as essential to take care of your mental health as it is to maintain physical health. If you wish to take expert advice, 

Consult Apollo's Mental Health Expert


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


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