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Depression Can Affect Your Diet

Depression is a serious mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and handles daily activities, including eating, working, and sleeping. The link between depression and diet can be an important signal in determining when professional mental health treatment is required.  

Columbia Associates offers professional depression treatment to residents of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Please call 703.682.8208 for information on our comprehensive mental health services. We are ready to help restore a life of mental health and well-being. 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression 

Common short and long-term effects of depression include: 

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities 
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism 
  • Irritability 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness 
  • Decreased energy or fatigue 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions 
  • Insomnia or oversleeping 
  • Appetite and/or weight changes 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts 

While the psychological impact of depression is well-documented, it also significantly affects physical health, particularly dietary choices. 

The Link Between Depression and Diet 

Depression can dramatically alter eating habits and appetite, leading to various unhealthy dietary patterns. These changes can worsen depressive symptoms and contribute to a vicious cycle of poor mental and physical health. Here’s how depression impacts diet: 

Loss of Appetite  

Individuals with depression may experience a significant decrease in appetite, leading to reduced food intake and weight loss. Meals might be skipped due to a lack of interest in eating or an overwhelming sense of fatigue. 

Increased Appetite and Emotional Eating 

Conversely, some people may eat more when depressed, turning to food for comfort and temporary relief from emotional distress. This often involves craving high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods, known as “comfort foods,” which provide short-term pleasure but long-term health issues. 

Preference and Rejection of Certain Foods 

People with depression may prefer easily accessible, highly processed foods over nutritious meals. There may be a rejection of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods, leading to imbalanced nutrition. 

Consequences of Poor Choices Regarding Depression and Diet 

Poor diet choices can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can worsen depressive symptoms and create additional health problems: 

  • Nutritional deficiencies – A lack of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium can exacerbate feelings of fatigue and poor concentration. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to an increased risk of depression1.
  • Weight changes – Weight loss due to a lack of appetite can lead to weakness, a compromised immune system, and further health complications. Weight gain from overeating comfort foods increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. 

Overcoming Depression and Diet Challenges 

Addressing both depression and its impact on diet requires a multifaceted approach: 

  • Professional Help – The critical first step is seeking help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, who can provide strategies to manage depression effectively. 
  • Healthy eating strategies – Establish a routine to ensure regular meal times, even if the appetite is low. 
  • Balanced diet – Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 
  • Mindful eating – Practice mindful eating to recognize hunger cues and avoid emotional eating. 
  • Hydration – Drink plenty of water and limit sugary drinks and caffeine. 

With help from specialists offering professional depression treatment, addressing the interconnectedness of depression and diet is possible. 

Contact Columbia Associates Today for Depression Treatment 

If you or a loved one has experienced depression and diet-related challenges, contact Columbia Associates. Our experienced therapists and psychiatric professionals offer therapeutic approaches such as Spravato® and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in addition to other evidence-based therapies to help provide relief. There is a path toward renewed mental health and well-being, so reach out today.  

For new clients, please click here to schedule an appointment. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly. 


1Journal of Personalized Medicine – “Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation in the Treatment of Depression: An Observational Study”