Food that treats depression

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

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No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Nutrition for depression - what to eat for neurosis

How to eat with neuroses? In this article, we have compiled recommendations based on the latest research by scientists. We choose products for a good mood.

Doctor's consultation

You can get the consultation of the necessary specialist online in the Doctis application


You can undergo a comprehensive examination of all major body systems

In everyday life, depression is called a depressed, joyless state, which many people have against the background of problems at work and at home. However, it may be a sign of a serious neurotic disorder that requires doctor's treatment. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people in the world live with depression. Unfortunately, the line between "everyday" depression and neurosis can be crossed imperceptibly for oneself. Therefore so It is important to maintain the health of your nervous system with the help of food. The benefit of including them in the diet in depression is available to everyone. What are these products?

Products for depression. How to improve nutrition in depression?


Researchers from the Aikan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Israel) found two substances in it - dehydrocaffeic acid and malvidin-3-O-glucoside. “They simultaneously suppress the peripheral inflammation in the brain and modulate the plasticity of synapses (the point of contact between two neurons), explained Prof. Dr. med. Giulio Maria Pasinetti. — They can effectively help treat and protect against stress-induced depression.”

Turkey, tuna, chicken

Nutrition for depression and neurosis must necessarily include animal products rich in the amino acid tyrosine. There is an opinion that there is a lot of tyrosine in cheese, but in fact, cheese is inferior listed products by tyrosine content. This amino acid is required by the body for the synthesis of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. In combination, these three substances are responsible in number other things for mood, cheerfulness, feeling energetic and successful. Tyrosine also prevents the syndrome chronic fatigue and dementia.

Liver, heart (beef, chicken, pork)

These foods are extremely important against depression because rich in vitamin B12. “Until now, the only officially recognized deficiency disorder vitamin B12 was megaloblastic anemia, explains Mary Diane Delva, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at Kingston University. “It is now becoming clear that many neurological and mental symptoms can also be caused by a deficiency of this substance. For example, wobbly movements, muscle weakness, spasms, dementia, psychosis and depression. Moreover, these disorders occur when the level of vitamin B12 is only slightly below the norm, which is much higher than the level at which anemia begins.

Cocoa powder and dark chocolate

Cocoa beans contain a group of polyphenols that reduce anxiety and calm. This was confirmed by the study Center for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University in Melbourne (Australia). True instant cocoa chocolate paste and milk chocolate against depression are not helpers - they only cheer you up products with a high content of natural cocoa. So, 40 g of dark chocolate contains the same polyphenols useful for the nervous system, like just 10 g of cocoa powder, from which it is brewed drink.

Cabbage and lettuce

They are rich in folic acid, which is required by the brain to produce the already mentioned serotonin. Her deficiency in food can lead to a decrease in mood, chronic fatigue and other signs of depression. “Folic acid reduces the level of homocysteine ​​in the blood,” recalls Joy Bauer, popularizer healthy eating and author of the book "Food heals". “This, among other things, improves memory.”

As you already understood, foods against depression not only fight neurosis, but in general improve brain function.

Treatment of depression with fasting

Also available method of treating depression fasting. It is carried out in the hospital of the clinic from several days to 3 weeks. The course also includes massage, walks, bowel cleansing and water treatments. Fasting in depression has the effect of therapeutic biological stress: without meals, the body "tunes" for survival, mobilizes. This also applies to the nervous system. Opponents of the method point out that fasting works only in the initial stages of depression. Fasting is contraindicated in depression if it accompanied by fear and anxiety.

If you have any questions, you can ask them psychotherapist, nutritionist or other professionals online at Doctis app.

Article author: Tatyana Vladimirovna Minina

Foods that cure depression

Nine years ago, epidemiologist Felis Xhaka discovered that women who consume a lot of sweet, refined carbohydrates and fast food are more likely to suffer from depression. After a series of randomized tests, it became clear that the food we eat regularly affects the brain and psyche much more than previously thought - and regardless of gender, age and country of residence. Xhaka is now President of the International Society for Research in Nutritional Psychiatry. This discipline is one of the main trends in the treatment of mental disorders. Much is written about it, it is actively studied, widely practiced and even taught at the psychiatric department of Columbia University. Our friends at Reminder, a new media about health and self-development, talk about the practical application of food psychiatry.

What exactly is this brain steroid diet?

This can be clearly seen in the list of "food antidepressants" recommended by Drew Rumsey, another leading expert, creator of the Brain Healthy Eating Clinic and eco-farmer.

Nutritional antidepressants. Plant foods: dandelion greens, spinach, kale, cilantro, mustard, basil, red cabbage, grapefruit, beet greens, lettuce, beetroot, Barbados cherry, turnip, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, papaya, bell pepper, parsley, broccoli, watercress, kohlrabi, cauliflower, nutmeg, chicory. Animal products: pollock, salmon, catfish, lobster, salmon, offal, crab, golden perch, oysters, clams, snails, tuna, mackerel, herring, rainbow trout, octopus, goat meat, liver, bird giblets, fish caviar, mussels, emu. (Source)

Drew Ramsey's top food antidepressants include everything commonly referred to as the "Mediterranean diet". The question is why beet greens or oysters can reduce the risk of depression by 33%? Because the “good” gut bacteria love them.

What does the intestines have to do with it?

Maybe the gut is not the "second brain" as it is sometimes called. But the bacteria living in it can definitely claim the title of a separate organ. There are 50 trillion of them, about 1.3 times more than all the cells in the body. 360 microbial genes for each of ours. Three kilograms of live weight. About 500 species united in a complex ecosystem - the microbiome. And as happens with any natural ecosystem, its disturbance affects the state of other systems with which it is connected. What is the intestine associated with?

We know that the 100 million neurons in the gut have a direct high-speed connection to the brain. That the gut microbiota regulates immunity and metabolic processes. That it is involved in the production of vitamins, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters. And that all this affects the brain. The gut microbiome is such a big topic that it's worth writing and reading books about it. For example, this one or this one. In the meantime, let's take out of context three facts that are important for food psychiatry.

1. The gut microbiota consists of several large groups of bacteria. Each group performs its own functions and is responsible for the production of specific enzymes.

2. The food we eat not only feeds us, but also the bacteria in the gut. Each group of bacteria has its own "food preferences". Distortions in nutrition change their ratio, leaving some bacteria without food and overfeeding others, which causes their rapid growth.

3. Serious changes in the gut microbiome were found in those suffering from depression: an increase in the "inflammatory" microbiota and a decrease in the number of bacteria associated with the production of the "happiness hormone" - serotonin.

Microbiota-Inflammasome Hypothesis of Major Depression.

Who is to blame?

The accused is sugar. The victim is serotonin. This neurotransmitter is the main tragic hero of the monoamine theory. She attributes depressive and some other disorders to an imbalance in the chemical balance of the brain, which leads to serotonin hunger.

How to satisfy him? Sweet, anyone will tell you. The arrival of a piece of cake comes in about twenty minutes. Glucose through a number of intermediaries stimulates the production of serotonin. Serotonin suppresses the centers of negative emotions in the posterior hypothalamus. And life is rosy again. Why do sweet and fatty, which they love to seize stress, become a depressant?

The problem is tryptophan, from which serotonin is synthesized. This amino acid is not produced by the body. Tryptophan can only be obtained from food. Mostly protein - vegetable or animal. The idea is that the glucose in sweets causes an increase in insulin levels, which helps tryptophan get to the brain. But processed sugary and fatty foods are too poor in the enzymes necessary for the absorption of tryptophan. It inhibits bifidobacteria, which are involved in its conversion to serotonin. And at the same time it causes the growth of another microbiota, which decomposes even that minimum of tryptophan, which could become serotonin.

But that's not all. In addition to glucose, sugar is broken down into fructose. And this is the favorite food of pathogenic bacteria, which include liposaccharides. These inflammatory molecules can increase the permeability of the intestinal wall. As a result, bacteria and endotoxins enter the bloodstream. In response, the immune system releases anti-inflammatory cytokines. They can enter the brain and stimulate the production of inflammatory molecules there that attack its neurons. Scientists are increasingly convinced that inflammation is one of the key factors in degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. It has been scientifically confirmed that depression also develops against the background of inflammatory processes and may be a brain reaction to cytokines. There are even suggestions that especially voracious gut bacteria can hack the brain and, like some parasites, manipulate our eating behavior to their advantage. Sounds like a script for a prequel to The Thing. But experiments on mice show that fatty and sugary foods cause changes in the mitochondria of hypothalamic cells, setting the brain to increase consumption of this type of food. There is another category of substances that change the microbiota to affect the brain. These are antidepressants.

What does antidepressants have to do with it?

Recent studies show that psychoactive drugs prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders suppress certain bacteria involved in the production of serotonin. And what is completely unexpected, for them this is not a side effect, but a condition of efficiency.

Of course, modern antidepressants are not required to stimulate the production of serotonin. Their job is to prevent the neurons that release serotonin from reabsorbing it. Due to this, the number of serotonin molecules between nerve cells increases. And normal signaling in the brain systems responsible for mood is restored.

This is what it looks like in theory. But how effective are they in practice? Ratings range from "completely" or "partially" to "slightly more" or "slightly less" than placebo. Why such a spread? If they didn't work at all, it would mean one of two things: either depression isn't related to a serotonin imbalance (as some experts believe), or they don't work. But they work. Just not always, not at all and not the same. They may suddenly stop. Almost guaranteed to stop after a while. And sooner or later they need to be replaced or combined with other drugs.

Antidepressant-induced changes in the gut microbiota may be the key to their notorious “moodyness”. And at the same time, the answer to the question why, despite the growth in their consumption, the incidence of depression and other mental disorders does not even think of decreasing.

What to do?

Harmful and beneficial microbes are equally dependent on what we eat. Therefore, we can make sure that they stop parasitizing on our weaknesses and become an instrument of self-control. Thanks to research on the composition of the microbiota, we know how the ratio of bacteria changes in the most common mental disorders. Nutritional psychiatry offers three strategies using so-called psychobiotics - biological psychomodulators.

1. Cut off the diet of potentially harmful microbes and feed potentially beneficial microbes with the food that they have chosen for themselves in the course of evolution.

2. Try to add potentially beneficial bacteria to the gut.

3. Do both. Because it's always better to be safe.

Let's start with the second point. He's more interesting.

One type of psychobiotic is potentially beneficial bacteria or probiotics. In theory, these living microorganisms should restore the correct balance of the microbiota, replenishing the ranks of the “good” bacteria in the intestine and displacing the “bad” ones from it. Studies using probiotics (specifically Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) have shown that probiotics can indeed improve psychological well-being. But to do this, they first need to get to the intestines. Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, soft cheese, miso, or sauerkraut are thought to be a slower but more reliable (and definitely more appetizing) way to deliver them than supplements. 5 billion probiotic cultures and 15 strains of beneficial bacteria in one capsule look spectacular on the label. But after entering the acidic environment of the stomach, they can be reduced to single cells. At least in the case of bifidobacteria. Manufacturers, of course, are making every effort to solve this problem. Especially in advertising.

The second type of psychobiotics are prebiotics. Complex carbohydrates or simply dietary fiber, which are found in plant foods such as asparagus, bran or chicory. And they come in the form of supplements. It is food for probiotics and "good" bacteria. According to Human Food Project host Jeff Leach, the dose to achieve a bifidogenic effect is 4-8 g per day. Prebiotics are a tough nut to crack. They are not digested in the stomach, but reach the large intestine, where hungry bacteria attack them. In general, a good prebiotic acts selectively, but with far-reaching consequences. It will not stimulate the growth of any useless clostridia. For example, inulin (in chicory root or powder) feeds lactic acid bacteria, which inhibit the activity of pathogenic microbes and reduce intestinal permeability. And judging by the tests, it controls stress hormones and facilitates the psychological processing of emotions. It also helps in the absorption of micronutrients. By the way, what about them? This is a separate issue.

Do nutraceuticals help?

Dietary supplements or nutraceuticals are a whole trend in nutritional psychiatry. With mental disorders, the body receives less nutrients and vitamins. Take gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as an example. It is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps manage stress and regulate fear and anxiety. With the help of magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which allows you to examine the brain for the content of chemical elements in real time, it has been established that in children with ADHD, its level is greatly reduced. GABA is produced by specific gut bacteria using zinc and vitamin B6. Both enter the body with food. Dietary supplements can compensate for their deficiency.

What dietary supplements help with depression? Here is a list of the most effective, according to a meta-analysis of clinical trials:

  • S-adenosylmethionine;
  • levomefolic acid;
  • vitamin D;
  • creatine;
  • folinic acid;
  • combinations of amino acids.
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have proven themselves best. Not only do they improve emotional well-being, but they are also effective in treating unipolar depression and bipolar disorder. Moreover, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) performs better than docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

There are also curious examples. For example, acetylcysteine, from which ACC is made, is able to alleviate the symptoms of schiffophrenia. But in general, the results are still unstable. High performance omega-3s are rather an exception. And the exceptions only confirm ... Well, you understand.

What is the reason? Perhaps in quantity and dosage.

Micronutrients in macro doses

12 pills three times a day. 13 vitamins, 17 minerals and four amino acids. See label for exact ingredients.

Clinical psychologist Professor Julia Rucklage from New Zealand compares her approach to food psychiatry to a shotgun blast. A good way to get into when you don't know exactly what. There's no point in fixing "one tiny glitch in biochemistry," she says. Moreover, we still cannot determine it. But we know what biochemical processes are involved in the production of serotonin and what substances are needed for these processes. “Instead of relying on one of these substances, it makes more sense to provide them in combination to create a synergistic effect.” To monitor the absorption of nutrients, she uses markers such as the level of vitamin B12 in the blood.

In reality, Ruckledge isn't just firing cannons at sparrows. She reckons that “nutrients act at different levels.”

  • "Micronutrients can increase the efficiency of mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells."
  • "They can also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, where dangerous molecules damage cells."
  • "Or just provide the body with everything necessary for normal life."

Her approach targets multiple targets at once. And judging by the results, it falls into at least some. The effectiveness of therapy with macrodoses of dietary supplements is 64% for ADHD, up to 53% for symptoms of depression, up to 70% for anxiety, and up to 59% reduction in stress levels for PTSD.

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