If you want to know how to help a friend with depression naturally, tell them all about these nutrients that may ease their symptoms.
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In this article:
- What Is Depression?
- The Role of Food in Easing Depression Signs and Symptoms
- How to Help a Friend with Depression with Health Food
How to Help A Friend With Depression
What Is Depression?
It might get thrown around a lot, but the word actually carries a heavy meaning for people suffering from depression.
The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a serious medical illness commonly experienced by several individuals. It involves an overwhelming sadness, sense of hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness, and disinterest in previously enjoyable activities.
About one in 15 adults experience depression in a year while one in six people go through it once in their life.
Others signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of energy
- Unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Feelings of guilt
Suffering from depression can hinder a person’s ability to function and perform daily tasks. Fortunately, it can be treated, and the right support can help enormously
If you have a friend who’s suffering from depression, you can lend a hand by offering the right kind of food. These alternatives to “comfort foods” can help improve the mood of a person coping with depression thanks to the vitamins and minerals they contain.
The Role of Food in Easing Depression Signs and Symptoms
For many people, food is inextricably linked to emotion, and in particular, stress and depression. It’s common for people to reach for comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, cookies, and ice cream when the chips are down.
These types of foods are often at the top of people’s self-medication playlist. In fact, they can help the eater feel a little better for a few minutes, but sadly the feel-good vibe is short-lived.
Fortunately, there are many foods that have proven to help with stress, depression, and anxiety.
“Food is a very powerful modifier when it comes to depression and the brain,” states Katie Swift, co-director of the Food as Medicine program of the Center, in an article published in Healthy Women. “The choice you make at the plate absolutely influences how you’re going to feel.”
Swift says we should all create a go-to “depression defense portfolio” of foods that strengthen not only our bodies, but also boost emotional health.
Admittedly, it may take a while to say farewell to your friends Ben and Jerry, who stand by you through thick and thin, but eventually, healthy swaps become your norm.
How to Help a Friend with Depression with Health Food
1. Mood Making Magnesium
Women, in particular, often have insufficient amounts of magnesium.
Why does this matter? Well, scientists believe magnesium helps improve mood and energy by producing and supporting the brain chemical serotonin.
What is serotonin? This neurotransmitter sends signals from cell to cell and contributes to a person’s feelings of happiness.
From almonds, leafy greens, and beans to grains, salmon, and oysters, magnesium-rich foods are easy to incorporate into your healthy diet.
Magnesium can help improve brain health as well as heart and protein function.
2. Makes Friends with Fats and Carbs
Many of us try to shun fats and carbs in an effort to manage weight. But we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater as plant-based fats and complex carbohydrates are essential for a healthy brain and mood.
If you have ever experienced cravings for carbohydrates, you may be running low on serotonin.
Good fat sources include avocados, seeds, and olive oil. As for complex carbs, reach for brown rice, legumes, and whole wheat bread.
To keep your energy at an even keel, partner those healthy carbs with protein, which is another known depression fighter. Snack on whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese or yogurt and granola.
Help your friend fight depression by cooking brown rice risotto or Aglio olio pasta when you invite them over. Good company reinforced with depression-fighting foods make a good combination when you’re trying to help someone through their depression.
3. Gear Up with Omega-3
Chances are you’ve heard the nutritional praises of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. But did you know that there is clinical evidence that proves that dietary omega-3 consumption can prevent depression?
Studies have shown that there is a link between low omega-3 levels and a higher incidence of depression. Wild salmon, trout, walnuts, hemp, and chia seeds are just a few of the Mother Nature’s omega-3 rich foods.
Most of the time, just eating foods rich in omega- 3 may not be enough. Juvenon’s Essential Omega-3 supplements may be the supplement you need to assure your daily dose of good fats.
4. Load Up on Alpha Lipoic Acid and Folic Acid
Studies have shown both of these nutrients can help with mood.
Tomatoes, in particular, are rich in folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid. In fact, many studies show an elevated incidence of folate deficiency in depressed patients.
Folic acid prevents an excess of homocysteine, which restricts the production of healthy mood neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine from forming in the body. Alpha lipoic acid helps the body convert glucose into energy, and in turn stabilizes mood.
5. Get More B-Vitamins into Your Body
Having a balance of vitamins and minerals is important for the body. But a significant deficiency in vitamin B12 may lead to depressive episodes in certain people, especially smokers.
A study noted very low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in people suffering from depression. The same issues were found in alcoholics.
You can get this vitamin from fish as well as low-fat dairy products.
6. Increase Protein Intake
Another nutrient that can help fight depression can be found abundantly in any pantry or refrigerator.
Protein, particularly the amino acid tryptophan, helps boost alertness in people, which is a great way to fight off depression. Boost your friend’s energy with a delicious chicken dish.
Turkey, chicken, and tuna all contain tryptophan to boost energy and improve mood.
Please note, these healthy foods don’t take the place of professional mental health services. Seek professional help if you suspect your depression issues are more than a passing phase.
Since other illnesses may mimic signs of depression, doctors usually give a diagnosis after two weeks of significant symptoms.
In the coming months, the Juvenon Health Journal will continue to feature research that will help you stay informed and healthy. By offering effective, all-natural supplements and health news you can use, Juvenon provides an essential arsenal for combating aging enemies.
Did this list help you understand how to help a friend with depression? Share your journey in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 11, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.