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Can Nutrition Help Depression? Part 1

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Many health care professionals are aware that there is an association between some physical disorders and nutrition deficiency; however, not many people are aware that mental disorders also have a nutritive link.

Most people tend to believe mental illnesses are strictly emotional and there is no nutritional or biochemical association. Nutrition however, may play a greater role in depression than what one believes.
Some health care professionals believe that nutrition can play a key role, both in the onset, severity, and duration of depression, including daily mood swings.

Many of the same food patterns that come before depression are the same food patterns that occur during depression. These patterns may include skipping meals, poor appetite, and a desire for sweets. People who are rigid in their eating and follow very low carbohydrate diets also may be at risk for developing symptoms of depression because the brain neurotransmitters (tryptophan and serotonin) involved in modulating depression are obtained from carbohydrate rich foods. Almost all anti-depressant drugs work by increasing the levels of these brain neurotransmitters.

Which foods affect mood and cause depression is not fully known, but some individuals are more sensitive than others. In general, foods such as refined carbohydrates (simple sugars, chocolates) provide immediate, but temporary, mood uplift. These foods have to be eaten continuously to sustain the mood elevation. This may not be practical and safe in the long run as one can easily gain weight. Other options are to eat complex carbohydrates such as cereals, pasta, fruits and vegetables. Although, not as appetizing as chocolates, they are more likely to have a prolonged mood elevating benefit.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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