Diet as a Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

In this rear view, an unrecognizable woman stands with a shopping cart in front of a shelf full of food in the bread aisle of a grocery store.
In this rear view, an unrecognizable woman stands with a shopping cart in front of a shelf full of food in the bread aisle of a grocery store.

It is no secret that the foods we eat have a bigger impact on our bodies than filling our stomachs, but did you know that by adding or eliminating certain foods you can treat anxiety and depression? Researchers have done studies on diets and have found two that provide significant results to participants – the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet
This diet is about adding in some Omega-3s. You can consume fatty fish and olive oil to capture lots of Omega-3s. The Mediterranean Diet also includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, some whole grains and legumes, raw nuts, no red meat, and sweets and wine in moderation. Men’s Journal featured the Mediterranean Diet and its potential to aid mental health in men choosing to follow its dietary rules.

The DASH Diet
This diet is all about taking things out, and those things are sugar. You can go for whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Find protein in chicken, fish, and nuts and switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Most importantly, limit sweets, sugary drinks, saturated fats, and alcohol.

A 39-year-old mother of two who battled with depression throughout her life has been weaned off of antidepressants by her doctor after starting yoga and the DASH Diet. After two and a half years of making the change to the DASH Diet, she is medication free and happier than she has been in a long time.

A 23-year-old woman who had been suffering from anxiety attacks and depression since the age of 14 changed her diet to include lots of vegetables and Omega-3 proteins and has also been weaned off of antidepressants. In addition, she has not had an anxiety attack in months.

Though the diet is not always a cure-all method, it is recommended along with traditional combatants to anxiety and depression-like therapy. You should also never stop taking antidepressant medication without consulting with your doctor first. But, look at some of the successes that were found just by taking some things out of the diet and adding others into it. How can the food we consume make such a difference?

One of the big influencers is serotonin, which is a chemical found in the digestive system that, among other things, fights anxiety and depression. The most common place serotonin is found in the digestive system, and it gets there through the food we eat. It is especially common in eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and pineapple.

No treatment is perfect, and no treatment is universal. As people, we are unique, and one size does not fit all. But, if natural changes like incorporating yoga and changing diet can increase overall mood and wellbeing, then why not take the chance to find change.