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Diet and depression

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Diet and depression

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Written by: Hannah
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Although depression can occur at any time of the year, it can be triggered in Autumn/Winter from the days shortening and there being less sunshine. This is sometimes referred to as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Diet can have a massive impact on your mood and when combined with exercise, it can sometimes go a long way in treating depression.

If you eat a diet high in processed foods with a lot of sugar and caffeine, there are a lot of dips in your mood as the effect of sugar and caffeine wear s off. It also causes your blood sugar to dip frequently which is also linked to low mood. A large intake of caffeine can also affect your sleep and make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep and have quality sleep which leaves you feeling rested. Lack of sleep can also affect your mood.

Exercise releases endorphins which are known as the feel good hormones because they make you feel happier. If you do half an hours exercise a day, you will release endorphins into your blood stream and start to feel the benefits on your mental health. Exercise doesn’t have to be in the gym. Going for a brisk walk or a swim can make you feel just as good as the gym. The gym isn’t for everyone and being outside on a sunny day even if it’s cold can make you feel much better.

What foods should you eat?

Eating lots of fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables provides your body with lots of vitamins and minerals. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and kippers have been found to have a positive effect on mental health. Try to avoid food which has been processed. Products made from white flour and more processed than those made with wholemeal so stick to foods like wholemeal bread and pasta. These foods have less impact on blood sugar and therefore mood. Processed food can also be quite addictive. It is not really known if this is scientific or an emotional addiction. They are also high in Calories with little nutritional value.

My top tips for improving your mood:
  • Get outside and exercise, enjoy the Winter sun and get endorphins flowing
  • Make changes to your diet, little changes over a period of time will be easier to manage than radical changes
  • Drink plenty of water as dehydration can affect your mood
  • Cut down on the alcohol, it is a depressant and might make you feel better to start with but won’t have any long term benefits
  • Watch the caffeine- it can affect your mood especially if you have a high intake, the caffeine come down can make you feel more depressed.

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