Is your diet making you depressed?

How your food can effect your mood

Depression can affect every aspect of a person’s life and is a very complex medical issue. While no one knows exactly what causes depression, researchers have identified some genetic correlations and increased risk factors that make some people more susceptible to depressive feelings than others.

One such link is that between a person’s diet and an increased risk of depression. A study published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal (2013) found that people who frequently ate fast food were 51% more likely to develop depression than those who ate little to any at all.1

In addition, a recent article from Harvard Medical School outlined specific dietary patterns that were found to be more closely associated with an increased risk of depression. It stated that high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables had a negative effect on overall emotional well being2.

Does depression cause poor eating or vice versa?

Researchers have sought to answer this very question: Are people feeling badly as a result of what they eat, or are they eating as a result of how they feel? One analysis found that when examining baseline diets – that is, how people are most likely to eat on a regular basis, there seemed to be a direct correlation between food and mood. For example, people who consumed the Mediterranean diet (typically high vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nut and seeds, and olive oil), were found to have a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms. In addition, individuals who routinely ate foods with added sugars or flours (breads, baked goods, cereals, and pastas), animal fats, processed meats, and butter – reporter higher instances of depressive feelings.

Be mindful of food and feelings

Researchers note that while the occasional intake of those “bad” foods may not have a lasting impact on one’s overall mental health, it’s still important to remember the risks. Individuals should be mindful that when it comes to our diets, everything is always better in moderation.

In addition, if you know already that you’re a person who is a higher risk for depression (whether it be from genetics, pre-existing condition, or your current life circumstances), then consider being more choosy and avoiding foods that could exacerbate these feelings.

If you have questions about feelings of depression and want to talk to a professional about ways to combat it, please contact Oasis: The Center for Mental Health today to get set up with an appointment with a provider.

Platorma SINC. (2012). Link between food and  depression comfirmed. Science Daily. Retrieved from:
Tello, Monique, MD, MPH. (2018). Diet and Depression. Harvard Health Publishing.  Retrieved from:
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