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Foods That Fight Depression

by Lily Medina

About Lily Medina

As a professional copywriter since 2004, Lily Medina researches to expand her expertise in technology, parenting, education, health, fitness and writing. She has also taught high school and worked as a copy editor. Medina majored in political theory at Patrick Henry College.



When you’re depressed, some recommendations or treatments might seem overwhelming. Certain foods might facilitate your recovery, lift your mood and a few may increase your energy. Though they can't replace traditional medication, they might help control depression.

Omega-3: Fish, Nuts and Seeds

When you’re depressed, you have a low level of serotonin, a crucial chemical in your brain. To increase your serotonin, Northwestern Health Sciences University suggests eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can enhance your brain chemistry. According to a review published in the "Alternative Medical Review" in 2003, omega-3 may improve and stabilize your mood. Consuming foods rich in omega-3s also helps prevent depression caused by an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Nuts, seeds, especially walnuts and flaxseeds, and coldwater fish contain high amounts of omega-3.

Complex Carbs: Granola, Fruits and Whole Grains

Your body uses complex carbohydrates to build serotonin, explains the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Further, depressed people commonly experience exhaustion and weariness; eating complex carbohydrates can increase and sustain your energy throughout the day. To give your body enough complex carbs, eat granola, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and whole-grain breads, cereals and rice in accordance with your doctor's medical treatment plan for your depression.

Vitamin B-12: Meat and Animal Products

Vitamin B-12 aids the part of your metabolism that facilitates neurological function. In 2005, a study published in the "Journal of Psychopharmacology" found that depressed people commonly have low levels of B-12. Consuming sufficient amounts of the vitamin, the journal concludes, may help relieve depression and enhance other treatments, though more research is needed in this area. Meats provide B-12, including beef, pork, chicken, and especially seafood. Beef liver, clams and fish contain particularly high amounts. Animal products—eggs, milk and yogurt—also supply vitamin B-12. Consult with your doctor as to whether this is an appropriate treatment before taking a B-12 supplement.

Folic Acid: Vegetables, Liver and Beans

A depressed person’s blood has high levels of homocysteine, according to a 2004 study in "Human Psychopharmacology." In excess, the study explains, this amino acid hinders the depressed patient from recovering; it also endangers the heart, notes the American Heart Association. Folic acid helps reduce the level of homocysteine, so eating enough folic acid may have an antidepressant effect, the study explains. Additionally, if you take antidepressants, folic acid may help them work more effectively, but consult with your doctor on the role folic acid may play in your treatment. To get enough folic acid, eat raw vegetables, ideally dark or colorful ones. Beef and chicken liver also provide folic acid, as do beans and legumes.

Probiotics: Fermentation and Milk Products

Bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract can affect how your body absorbs nutrients, according to Harvard Health Publications. For some people, nutritional deficiencies correlate with depression, notes a study published in the journal "Medical Hypotheses" in 2005. Probiotics remove unhealthy bacteria, correct any imbalances and help your body absorb nutrients. Therefore, the journal concludes, eating foods that contain these healthy microorganisms might help treat depression. More studies are needed in this area, however. Foods that contain live cultures can supply probiotic bacteria. Milk and yogurt are sufficient sources; soy and miso also contain probiotics.

Photo Credits:

  • a day of fishing image by nextrecord from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.