Believe me. As a sufferer of depression, I hate it when people give me healthy eating and lifestyle tips as if that’s the real answer to my illness. Nobody would ever think to dish out such earnest pearls of amateur nutritionist wisdom to somebody with a broken leg (“just cut out the carbs, you will feel much better!”). I’m mildly overweight and so Ive long since learned to nod along politely, and inwardly sigh, when friends pointedly suggest that I might be “happier” after going for a good run or giving up sugar in my tea. I don’t know your situation and would never dream of telling you that a few celery sticks will make it all better. As many of us know, recovery can be a long and complicated process.
However, depression is an illness much like any other and you need to take care of yourself much as you would if you had a problem with your heart, your stomach and your liver. Your brain after all isn’t some mystical unknowable entity; it is an organ like any other that can be mapped, analysed and nourished. This list therefore is not a list of cures for depression, it is more a few simple hints that will help you cope a little better during your own personal journey to recovery.
- Turkey. Possibly a godsend for staying merry throughout awkward, crap office Christmas parties nationwide, but also pretty underrated the rest of the year. Turkey meat is rich with amino acids such as tyrosine. Tyrosine can help boost the productivity of dopamine, a crucial neurotransmitter in your brain often a little bit shaky in those suffering from depression. Dopamine is what allows you to feel blissful sensations such as joy and pleasure as well as more sensible feelings such as focus and concentration.
- Low fat cheese. I was pretty thrilled by finding out about this one after years of being berated for my love of cheese and crackers. Low fat dairy products actually have an incredibly calming effect, although obviously don’t go overboard. Calcium, in modest amounts. is important when keeping your nervous system healthy. Not getting enough calcium can actually contribute to your depression by making you feel much more irritable and anxious and can even affect your sleep patterns.
- Oranges. Think of these as little zesty orbs of sunshine to grab at when you are feeling down. These super fruits are bursting with vitamin c and various essential minerals which can help you better manage feelings of stress. Packed with energy boosting natural sugars, they also contain plenty of antioxidants such as flavonoids which can aid some of the symptoms of mild depression such as low mood.
- Coconut water. Coconuts contain healthy fats and cholesterol which is essential for maintaining good brain health. Coconut is in fact quite simply a magical food for those with depression. The scent of coconut alone is said to be enough to calm your nerves so coconut scented perfume and room freshener are a great idea during off days.
- Carrots. Carrots help to stimulate the depleted serotonin levels in your brain, which are often less balanced in sufferers of depression. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that acts a messenger between cells and your nervous system, a lack of which can significantly lower your mood. Carrots are also full of vitamin a which help to tackle retinol deficiency. Retinol deficiency can affect the birth of new nerve cells and therefore can lead to decreased mental health.
Most of all, take time out to appreciate yourself, surround yourself with positive people as best you can and make sure to remember that things can and do get better.