The term, "depression," is loosely used in everyday conversation where people tend to make it synonymous with sadness. However, depression is much more than "feeling blue." Depression is a brain disorder that affects more than 20 million people in the United States according to the National Institutes of Health. While there are effective treatments available in the form of counseling and prescribed medication, many are reluctant to seek professional help. If you've been looking for an alternative means of fighting depression without medicine, you may want to try these foods that have been shown to help with this brain disorder:
1. Cold-Water Fish
Studies have shown the positive effects of cold-water fish like salmon or tuna on individuals suffering from depression. These types of fish have antidepressant properties due to their abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the National Institutes of Health, fish oil supplements used to provide omega-3 may improve symptoms of depression for those suffering from bipolar disorder. While more studies are needed to test omega-3's effectiveness for helping with depression, and discerning an adequate dosage, eating more of these types of fish can also be beneficial to a person's overall health.
2. Dark Chocolate
Here's another excuse to indulge in this sweet, savory snack - dark chocolate can help fight depression. One cannot deny how the taste and smell alone can be used to help elevate moods that can battle bouts of depression, but another factor that makes dark chocolate so useful for this particular brain disorder is a chemical found in the cocoa content called phenylethylamine. Studies have shown that this chemical, which is commonly used for antidepressants and stimulants, can help improve moods and fight off symptoms of depression and stress. On top of fighting against depression, dark chocolate is beneficial for its antioxidant properties along with improving cardiovascular health.
3. Green Tea
Instead of having a cup of coffee for that caffeine boost every morning, try drinking some green tea. A study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown a correlation between green tea consumption and a reduced risk of depression. The study was conducted amongst elderly subjects in Japan who widely consumed green tea. The study concluded that individuals who drank green tea more frequently had a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms.
4. Whole Grains
Having a healthy, high-fiber diet with more whole grains can help fight depression. Whole grain foods like oatmeal or brown rice are an excellent source of magnesium. Studies suggest that magnesium can be used to counteract symptoms of depression. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to cause symptoms related to depression like anxiety and insomnia. Other foods rich in magnesium include almonds and sunflower seeds.
Vegans, vegetarians and those looking for more omega-3 fatty acids, but don't want to consume fatty, cold-water fish can look to walnuts as a suitable alternative. Walnuts are also a healthy source of protein and can help prevent heart disease and lower LDL cholesterol. These beneficial factors can also help reduce symptoms of depression just by improving a person's overall health.
Unhealthy Diet May Lead to Depression
While all the foods can be used to help fight depression, a balanced and healthy diet is also very important. More and more studies are being done which show a link between unhealthy eating habits and depression. Many of these studies follow people over a certain period of time, analyzing their health, lifestyle, diets and any medical conditions. Often times, those suffering from obesity or heart disease were also suffering from depression.
Adding more of these foods to your diet can help fight depression and elevate a person's mood. These foods can also be useful for fighting depression if they are used to replace unhealthy foods that contain saturated and trans fats. However, it is important to realize that professional treatment and medication remains the most effective means of treating and preventing depression.