Although there is no clear link between caffeine and depressed mood, people who are sensitive to caffeine may experience effects that could exacerbate current depression symptoms. For example, for those who are highly dependent on caffeine, stopping intake altogether may cause irritability and fatigue. Excessive caffeine consumption can also cause sleeping troubles, which could worsen depression symptoms. If caffeine causes you mood problems, switch to decaf coffee or tea, and stop consuming caffeine about four hours before bedtime.
Fried and Processed Foods
Studies show that eating foods high in trans-fats (including fried foods and processed foods), may increase the risk of depression. On the flip side, consumption of healthy fats (think olive oil, nuts, fatty fish and avocado) may lower the risk of depression. Step away from the chip bag and reach for a handful of almonds or walnuts for a mood-booster.
Eating sugary foods like candy and packaged snack foods might give you a temporary energy "high", but it won't last you very long before your blood sugar dips down, causing irritability and fatigue. If you have to have something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit, which will deliver the important vitamins, minerals and fiber that will boost you mood instead of bringing it down.
Having a drink every once in a while is a normal way to socialize and let loose. However, be sure to keep your usage in check, as alcohol abuse may trigger depression symptoms and/or exacerbate the symptoms of existing depression or anxiety disorders. If you struggle with depression or find yourself relying on alcohol too much to have a good time, try to surround yourself with others who don't partake.
Sodium isn't just bad for your blood pressure--it might also wreck your mood. Although it has not been proven that too much sodium causes depression symptoms, some evidence shows that depressed mood may be closely linked to high sodium levels. There is also some evidence that salt activates the same neural pathways in the brain as drugs and other addictive substances. Put down the shaker and flavor your food with fresh herbs and (salt-free) spices, instead.
Although food isn't a cure-all for a bad mood, eating a nutritious diet is one small step to feeling better overall, mentally and physically. Eat up to stop feeling down!
This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.
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