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6 Foods Proven to Help Treat Depression

These foods are not only proven by research to help treat depression, they’re also yummy. Certain foods increase serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which has a direct effect on your mood, thoughts, and energy levels.

foods to help treat depressionIn Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Level, Loretta Graziano Breuning helps you choose healthy ways to stimulate the dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin production in your brain. Dopamine is the good feeling you get when you approach a reward. Serotonin is the good feeling of getting respect. Oxytocin is the feeling of trust, and endorphin is the euphoria that masks physical pain.

If a loved one is dealing with depression, read How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend. It’s important to remember that how depression is treated depends on the cause of the depression. For instance, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is often best treated with a light therapy lamp in addition to eating yummy foods for depression. But no matter what the cause is, eating the right foods can change how chemicals are produced and stored in your body, which can affect how you feel. That’s why you need to focus on what foods fight depressed feelings.

How do certain foods help treat depression? By increasing the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. What you eat has a direct effect on your mood, thoughts, and energy levels. Depression can be caused by low serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain; these foods naturally improve mood by increasing those brain chemicals.

Another tip about treating depression naturally is to pay attention to your spiritual side – your soul. Some people believe depression can be caused by blocked energy, unprocessed emotions, or a disconnection from God or the Universe. If you’re not spiritually healthy, then you’re not emotionally healthy. Emotional ill health or disease leads to depression. How are you and God?

6 Foods Proven to Help Treat Depression

Eating the right food can be an effective way to help treat depression, but please don’t neglect your health care provider. Talk to your doctor or naturopathic physician about the cause and treatment for your depressed feelings.

And in the meantime, here are a few foods that are considered to be natural treatments for depression…

1. Sardines

Sardines are a low contaminant fish, high in both Vitamin D and Omega-3’s. “The fats in dairy, meats and oils are important for the production of acetylcholine, which is crucial for memory formation and general neural integrity,” writes Dr Pierce Howard in The Owner’s Manual for the Brain.

Salmon, char, haddock, shrimp, and rainbow trout are other natural foods that fight depression naturally, because they are high in omega-3 oils. Since the brain is 60% fat, it needs those omega-3 oils to renew and repair cells. Omega-3 oils can also prevent mood swings and stabilize emotions naturally.

If you don’t like or eat enough fish, Omega 3 Fish Oil Pills are the perfect solution. Pop a couple of those babies daily, and you can cross this food for fighting depression off your list.

2. Skim Milk

Low levels of folic acid and vitamin B are connected to depression, though doctors haven’t nailed down the exact link. They do know that people with depression have lower levels of folate and vitamin B. Skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs are high in B, and can improve mood by stabilizing emotions. These foods also boost the immune system, which decreases the chance of other types of physical illness.

3. Edamame

Going out for sushi? Order edamame! Commonly found in China and Japan, edamame is baby soybeans served whole. This food for depression is high in protein, low in fat, and delicious. Since edamame helps stabilize sugar levels, it can improve mood and decrease depressed feelings. This is a food for depression that is yummy – if you like green veggies and salt.

4. Blackberries

Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are high in polyphenols, which are a category of flavonoids.

Foods to Treat Depression

Foods Proven to Help Treat Depression

Research shows that these berries can reverse some effects of age-related brain decline, such as Alzheimer’s. Other scientists found that flavonoids work with vitamin C to prevent that vitamin’s breakdown and boost the fight against free radicals. Berries also guard against macular degeneration, various cancers, and brain cell loss.

The healthier the brain, the happier your mood – which is why food makes you feel happy.

5. Beans, Legumes and Soy Foods for Depression

Black beans, soybeans, split peas and tofu are among the “bean and pea” family of foods that fight disease, which makes them a perfect food for depression. Beans contain high amounts of thiamine, a B-vitamin key in building healthy brain cells, improving memory, and stabilizing cognitive function.

Beans and legumes are also full of soluble fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar. This improves mood and fights depression by preventing mood swings.

6. Ground Flaxseed

Ground flaxseeds are better than whole flaxseeds because they offer more omega-3 fatty acids, which increase serotonin levels. Omega-3s can sharpen minds, stabilize moods, and trigger the production of brain chemicals that help fight depression naturally.

Whether or not you’ve been medically diagnosed as depressed, your eating habits directly affect your mood, thoughts, and even interactions with other people. A happier mood can be as simple as knowing what foods for depression work best — which involves some experimentation with recipes and cooking.

Again, it’s important to remember that the cause of your depression affects what the treatment is. Read How to Get Over Depression if you’re struggling with a low mood or unhappy feelings. Also, consult with your doctor before trying anything to treat depression, even naturally. These foods for fighting depression won’t harm you, but you should always check with your doctor if you feel even the littlest bit depressed.

What do you think about treating depression naturally with these foods? I welcome your thoughts, but I can’t offer advice on treating depression.

Resources: The Owner’s Manual for the Brain (Bard Press, 2006), Dr Pierce J. Howard and The Brain Wash (John Wiley & Sons, 2007), Michelle Schoffro Cook.


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9 thoughts on “6 Foods Proven to Help Treat Depression”

  1. Hi Laurie,

    Yes, I agree with you, clinical depression is very serious and I think that’s when a depressed person needs to seek professional help, for sure. That’s so cool that you’ll be getting your MSW degree soon! 🙂

  2. Thank you for your comments – it’s always great to hear from an old friend 🙂 I need to create an RSS feed for my blogger friends, so I can keep in touch with your blog. I just don’t seem to have enough time in the day!

    About eating certain foods for depression – it’s important to remember that clinical depression cannot be “fixed” by food. People who are moderately or severely depressed need to talk to a doctor about how to treat their depression. Sometimes prescription medications are necessary — in addition to eating healthy foods!

  3. Hi Laurie! Thanks for another wonderful, informative article. I can definitely tell a difference in my moods when I’m eating a lot of the foods that you mentioned in your article, versus when I’m eating less healthy food, aka junk food, ha! ha! I guess the saying that you are what you eat is really true! 🙂

  4. Thanks Laurie for a very informative blog post. The foods you’ve mentioned are off course excellent for overcoming mood swings as well as for general well being. I think spiritual aspect and auto suggestion do help a lot in bucking up low spirits.

  5. Hi again Leona,

    I just wrote a new article on starting a blog — it may help you get started and stay focused 🙂


  6. Thanks so much for the info and the encouragement, Laurie. Your blogs are excellent and I really enjoy reading them. 🙂

  7. Hi Leona,

    No, I didn’t get permission from the authors to cite their books. I referred to their information and books in my article, and I need to show readers where I got my information from. I think you only need permission from the author if you copy more than a certain number of words from their work.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best as you start your blog!

    Stay true to you,

  8. Hi Laurie. Thank you for the excellent article. I’m a writer interested and I’m interested in starting my own blog, and I really appreciate all of your excellent information about how to set up a blog, and what types of blog make more money, etc. 🙂

    When you sited the two books at the end of your article, did you have to get permission from the authors first to do so? I’m assuming even if you did have to get permission, they would be thrilled and flattered that you’re quoting them and referring to their books, as it could lead to book sales for them as well?


  9. Thank you Laurie for writing foods for depression. Stay away from those comfort foods like mashed potatos and fried chicken! I thought those foods would help with my depression, but I was wrong.