Help Fight Depression with These 8 Foods

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 16 million adult women and men in the United States have at least one episode of major depression in their lifetimes. Major depression is more than feeling blue; it’s a medical condition that’s influenced by physical, psychosocial, and environmental factors.

If you’re depressed, our expert team at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center can help you with a custom-designed program of psychotherapy, coping strategies, medications, and novel treatments, such as FDA-approved transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

In addition to getting professional treatment for your depression, you can help your body and brain heal with a healthy diet. Sound depressing? Well, what if all the foods were delicious?

Let’s start with:

1. Dark chocolate

OK, not everyone loves chocolate, but if you’re one of the majority who do, you’re in luck. Pure, organic cacao powder is rich in antioxidants and chemicals that boost endorphins to make you feel better.

But store-bought candy won’t do the trick. Find organic, minimally processed cacao and make your own chocolate treats by adding it to your smoothies, or use it in recipes that feature low-glycemic sweeteners.

You can also order organic dark chocolate bars sweetened with coconut sugar online. Don’t overdo it — just a single square or two per day is enough to lift your mood and fulfil your craving without compromising your health.

2. Sweet potatoes

Speaking of “sweets” that won’t bulge your waistline or cause a sugar crash, sweet potatoes are complex carbohydrates that fill you up while providing key nutrients, such as beta carotene, and they also release feel-good serotonin in your brain. Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes in savory treats, or use as a base for sugar-free pies and treats.

3. Salmon and clams

Seafood and fish — including oysters and clams — contain an essential mineral called selenium. Low levels of selenium are associated with a depressed mood. Fatty fish like salmon also provide omega-3 oils, which also keep your mood elevated.

4. Nuts

Particularly if you’re a vegetarian who shies away from seafood, you can get selenium from nuts and seeds, yogurt, and some grains. One caution: Brazil nuts are a fantastic source of selenium, but limit yourself to 1-2 small Brazil nuts a day to avoid getting toxic levels of the mineral.

Omega-3s are found in flax seeds (grind them!), walnuts, and other nuts. The magnesium in walnuts helps raise your levels of the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin.

5. Mushrooms

These potent, nutrient-rich fungi contain Vitamin D, which helps you feel optimistic. You can add cooked or raw mushrooms to soups, salads, omelettes, stir fries, and more. Egg yolks are another source of vitamin D that’s easy to work into your daily diet.

6. High-quality protein

Your brain needs protein several times a day to stay alert and focused. Choose high-quality proteins, such as eggs, grass-fed beef or lamb, organic chicken or turkey, and fish. Vegetarians can opt for eggs, organic yogurt, beans, peas, and organic soybeans.

7. Healthy fats

Did you know that about 60% of your brain is composed of fat? And that feeding your brain healthy fats helps it function better? Trying to limit fat has led many women and men to the inner aisles of their grocery stores, where they find manufactured fat-free foods that are filled with brain-dulling sugar instead.

Avoid the inner aisles. Instead, buy lots of antioxidant-rich veggies, and then enhance their flavor with healthy, brain-friendly fats such as grass-fed butter or ghee, organic cold-pressed coconut oil, and organic extra-virgin olive oil.

8. Leafy greens  

Oh see, you say, I knew these foods would be boring. If you’re not a kale fan and you don’t like spinach, try some other, spicier greens, such as arugula, for your salad. You can get your leafy-green doses of selenium, energy-enhancing B vitamins, plus tons of antioxidants by adding frozen spinach to a smoothie, mixing greens into a stir fry, and loading your salads with delicious distractions, including nuts, seeds, mushrooms, or berries.

While these eight foods give you some ideas about how rich and delectable a healthy diet can be, they’re just the tip of a very large and scrumptious iceberg. Use the internet and cookbooks to find more mood-boosting foods (including bananas, oatmeal, and saffron) and recipes from around the world that show you how much fun healthy food can be.

A colorful, varied diet that emphasizes whole foods loaded with antioxidants, adequate protein, and a smattering of healthy fats is just one component of controlling your depression. Contact our experts for an evaluation and custom-designed treatment by phoning our friendly office staff in Fullerton, California, or using our online contact form.

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