What foods are good for helping depression?

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Depression affects many people, and it can be life changing. Medical treatment and counseling can often help relieve symptoms, but lifestyle remedies, such as a healthful diet, can also boost a person’s well-being.

There is no specific diet to treat depression, but eating more of some foods and less or none of others can help some people manage their symptoms.

In this article, we look at some foods and nutrients that may be beneficial and some that people should avoid.

Many nutrients are available to purchase, but people should ask their doctor’s advice before using any supplements, as they can sometimes interfere with other medications.

Link between diet and depression

One factor that may contribute to depression is a person’s dietary habits, which will determine the nutrients that they consume.

A 2017 study found that the symptoms of people with moderate-to-severe depression improved when they received nutritional counseling sessions and ate a more healthful diet for 12 weeks.

The improved diet focused on fresh and whole foods that are high in nutrients. It also limited processed refined foods, sweets, and fried food, including junk food.

Depressive symptoms, including mood and anxiety, improved enough to achieve remission criteria in more than 32% of the participants.

The researchers concluded that people could help manage or improve their symptoms of depression by addressing their diet.


Some scientistsTrusted Source have suggested that increasing selenium intake might help improve mood and reduce anxiety, which may help make depression more manageable.

Selenium is present in a variety of foods, includingTrusted Source:

  • whole grains
  • Brazil nuts
  • some seafood
  • organ meats, such as liver

Supplements are available for purchase in health food shops.

For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D may help improve the symptoms of depression, according to a 2019 meta-analysisTrusted Source.

People obtain most of their vitamin D through sun exposure, but dietary sources are also important.

Foods that can provide vitamin D includeTrusted Source:

  • oily fish
  • fortified dairy products
  • beef liver
  • egg

Supplements are also available for purchase in health food shops and pharmacies.

Omega-3 fatty acids

The results of some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids might help with depressive disorders.

However, the authors of a 2015 reviewTrusted Source concluded that more studies are necessary to confirm this.

Eating omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of mood disorders and brain diseases by enhancing brain function and preserving the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids includeTrusted Source:

  • cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel
  • flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds
  • walnuts

Omega-3 supplements are also available in health food shops and pharmacies.


Vitamins A (beta carotene), C, and E contain substances called antioxidants.

Antioxidants help remove free radicals, which are the waste products of natural bodily processes that can build up in the body.

If the body cannot eliminate enough free radicals, oxidative stress can develop. A number of health problems can result, which may include anxiety and depression.

The results of a 2012 studyTrusted Source suggested that consuming the vitamins that provide antioxidants may reduce symptoms of anxiety in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

Fresh, plant based foods, such as berries, are good sources of antioxidants. A diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, soy, and other plant products may help reduce the stress-related symptoms of depression.

Click here to learn more about which foods contain antioxidants.

Read more: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318428#antioxidants