Diet and Depression | New Scientific Findings
Depression is different than being sad.
I can’t remember where I read this definition of depression versus sadness, but it’s a good one:
Depression isn’t being sad when things are going wrong. Depression is being sad when things are going right.
We all experience sadness.
We need this emotion.
Tough and gloomy times make our victories feel so much better.
Without SAD, there would be no HAPPY.
Sometimes sadness is an indicator that we need to change something.
Other times sadness is a result of a tragic event.
Once positive things happen, or once enough time passes, we should become less sad.
…and eventually happy like this little guy.
Sadness is normal.
It is part of life and nothing to be ashamed of.
Here’s a wise quote from an unlikely source.
“There are going to be peaks and valleys in everything – in your marriage, in your job, in your life. So just enjoy the peaks and ride out the valleys. Just try not to do anything too rash.” – Ricky Schroder
Depression is different.
The peaks in life don’t come with happiness or enjoyment.
Good things fail to improve your mood.
“On an island in the sun, we’ll be playing and having fun… And it makes me feel so fine, I can’t control my brain.” – Weezer
Talking in detail about the CAUSE of depression is beyond the scope of this article.
I used to think it was just a chemical imbalance in the brain.
It goes beyond that.
Here’s an outstanding multi-page article about depression
The most interesting thing about this article?
The finding that depressed people dream 3X as much as non-depressed people.
Note: I have no idea if the dreaming theory of depression is correct. I just know that antidepressants only work for a percentage of those who take them, so we need alternatives.
Depending upon which studies you examine…
It appears that rates of depression have increased each and every year for the last 50-80 years.
This brings us to the main point of this article.
What if changing your diet could help with depression?
Is the increase in depression caused by the increase in processed foods?
It’s a strong possibility.
Chips are my biggest weakness.
Have you tried Doritos Roulette?
It’s Nacho Cheese flavor mixed in with a few Extra Spicy. It is pretty funny to watch someone with wimpy tastebuds eat a spicy one.
Maybe eating ANY tortilla or potato chip is like playing roulette.
We know they aren’t healthy for your body.
…but there is a strong possibility you are also playing roulette with your mental health.
Interesting Findings of a NEW Clinical Trial
On January 30, 2017, The Smiles Trial was published.
This research demonstrates that people with depression can improve their mood by eating a healthier diet.
This is actually the very FIRST study of its kind.
Every other study in the past has been questionnaire-based.
(Time for a happy song.)
“We’re jammin’. To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past. We’re jammin’. And I hope this jam is gonna last.” – Bob Marley
Here’s how the study was set up:
- 67 moderately to severely depressed men and women
- Half were put on a modified Mediterranean diet
- Half were required to attend social support sessions
Everyone’s depression symptoms were graded before and after the 12-week study using a scale called MADRS (Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale).
This rates mood from 0 to 60 (with 60 being severely depressed).
The Diet Group: The average MADRS score improved by an average of 11 points… 32% had scores so low they no longer met the criteria for depression.
The Support Group: Average MADRS score improved by an average of 4 points… 8% had scores so low they no longer met the criteria for depression.
Really positive results for the diet group.
The support group improved as well, just not as much.
I’m guessing a combo of diet and support would work best.
Another study in favor of the Mediterranean Diet.
I’m not a huge fan of following a labeled diet, but if I was forced to choose… I’d probably go with the Mediterranean Diet.
Whole foods are good for the brain.
…and I’m not just talking about depression.
Processed and refined foods contribute to insulin resistance.
Food really does have drug-like effects.
Your diet has effects WAY beyond just looking good in a swimsuit.
This study is just another reminder to put good food into your body.
(Time for another happy song.)
One of my very first memories was around the age of 3-4.
…hearing my Mom and Dad singing along to this song on the radio, in the front seat of our car (red Chevy Nova I think).
Karen Carpenter’s voice is a once-in-a-generation thing.
The voice of an angel.
Corny, but always puts a smile on my face.
I’m not a psychologist.
I do have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
Which is really just an intro to the subject.
I’ve been a lifelong student of psychology…
If you are severely depressed, seek help.
If you are just in a funk or mildly depressed?
Try cleaning up your diet and adding in a consistent exercise routine.
There’s a good chance that it could help.
It certainly can’t hurt.
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