Diet And Depression

diet and depression

Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force

Diet and depression (mental illness, in general) are more closely related than you might have thought. If you’ve ever wondered why your mental health clinician is asking if you’ve tried the Mediterranean diet, this article may help you understand why.

Anyone can feel blue from time to time. Bad news happens, and it does so often. Bad news may come in the form of relationship problems, breakups, job loss, health problems, loss of loved ones or pets, etc. How long it takes to bounce back from a case of “the blues” varies from individual to individual, but if the blueness and sadness come to stay for an extended period of time, it’s time to look at some other factors.

How long has the depression/sadness lasted? Days? Months? Years? The amount of time the depression has lasted is significant when it comes to appropriate management, diagnosis, and treatment.

Brace Yourself: The Holidays Are Coming

Here’s something you may have never considered: The holidays are on their way. Are you prone to sink into a depressive funk during “the most wonderful time of the year?” What are you eating? If you’re like many people, you probably go on an annual diet healthy with sugary treats. Yes, they are delicious, but most of these treats, are devoid of many significant nutrients that can improve your mood, and help to manage depression effectively.

Most people are not sure whether or not unhealthy food can lead to depression or if it’s the other way around. To help you better with understanding nutrition and its impact on your mental health, know that what we consume every day affects our health in general. To take the nutrition topic a bit further, nutritional psychiatrists will tell you that there is a definitive link between food, mental health, and mental status, particularly when clinical depression is involved.

What’s the Deal with Depression?

Depression seems like one of those things that, even if you can’t clearly define it, you know it when you see it (or feel it, in this case). What is it, exactly?

Depression is a mental illness driven by consistently negative thinking and behavior. It is also a problem all around the world, not just in the West. Mental illness can interfere with an individual’s capacity to undergo routine, daily activities, and to interact effectively with others. Studies show that feelings of being worthless and hopeless associated with mental illness are directly tied to suicide rates.

Depression in particular can become so debilitating that it impedes quality of life, and can be the catalyst for substance abuse, as well as for subpar work and school performance.

  • The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that one in four adults and one in ten children cope with mental illness in the United States.
  • In the U.S., suicide takes about 40,000 lives annually, ranking as the 10thleading cause of death.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that mental illness is the cause behind 40% of all disabilities worldwide.
  • By 2020, major depressive disorder will dominate as the leading cause of disability for women and children around the world.

Trust Your Gut

Microorganisms produce countless neurochemicals (brain chemicals). These neurochemicals, generated by your stomach bacteria, have a significant impact on your mood and other neurologic functions. What you eat affects your mood, so be sure to consume plenty of foods that enhance your digestive health, such as Lactobaccilli (from the lactic acid bacteria group) and Bifidobacteria (some bifidobacteria are used as probiotics).

Speaking of mood, keep in mind that aspartame (used to sweeten diet beverages) is a toxicant that has been directly linked to depression. Aspartame breaks down into smaller molecules that deplete serotonin levels (the “feel good” hormone). Serotonin is a critical neurochemical “messenger” that regulates your appetite and mood.

Foods that Fight Depression

Your newest homework assignment is to start paying better attention to what you consume. Stick with foods that promote healthy sleep, foster a sense of wellness, and, well, that help boost your mood.

There are countless healthy foods that can function as natural antidepressants. As mentioned above, serotonin is a hormone that can have a significant impact on your health and mood. Foods such as chickpeas and turkey are rich in tryptophan which promotes serotonin production.

You should also consume:

  • Foods with Vitamin B12 and folate, to help prevent mood disorders and dementia (e.g., beetroot, lentils, almonds, spinach, chicken, fish (for B12), and liver (for folate))
  • Foods high in Vitamin D will help against mood disorders (e.g., sunlight, juices, breads, milk, breakfast cereal, high-quality supplements)
  • Foods with selenium to fight depression (e.g., cod, walnuts, poultry, Brazil nuts)
  • Don’t forget your Omega-3 fatty acids, critical for cognitive and behavioral function. Omega-3 fat deficiencies can pave the way for a number of health problems, including depression and mood swings (e.g., cod, salmon, haddock, halibut, nut oils, algae, high-quality supplements)
  • Dark chocolate! Dark chocolate can bolster your mood by increasing endorphins in the brain to promote a sense of overall health and well-being.

In addition to eating healthy and drinking plenty of water every day, you should also undertake regular physical activity/exercise. Exercise will boost your metabolism, soothe tension and anxiety, and enhance your overall mood.

Avoid these Foods

By now, you may be starting to figure out that while some foods are good for you and your mental health, others are … not so good.

To help keep your mood on the up and up, stay away from the following:

High-calorie/low nutrient foods. Processed, refined sugars will give you a short-lived, high-energy boost. Sweets raise the levels of sugar in your blood, increase your capacity for fat storage, and set you up for a jolt-now-crash-and-burn-later dynamic. Energy levels are best maintained when you you’re your blood sugar level as consistently low as possible.

Caffeine. Not just diet beverages, but caffeinated beverages also are known to be serotonin killers. Caffeine puts you at higher risk for disrupted sleep, depression, and anxiety. Go easy on your consumption of coffee, tea, and even hot cocoa, and get into the habit of drinking them without any sweeteners.

Alcohol. Imbibing the occasional drink is good (and can even be physiologically healthy for you), but you should carefully limit your intake of alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption depletes serotonin levels and can lead to panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

Diet and exercise alone are likely not enough for you to effectively manage a case of clinical depression, so be sure to consult with a mental health professional for lasting bouts of depression.

Do you deal with ongoing depressive moods and feelings of hopelessness? You’re not alone. You can treat and manage mental health disorders, and learn to live a healthy, productive life. But you need to take the first step. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Reach out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

12 Must-Try Products to Help You Cope with Anxiety and Stress

anxiety relief

Image courtesy of

Anxiety and stress can get the best of anyone from time to time. Anxiety can also overwhelm and make you feel chronically ungrounded and without any sense of control over yourself—even at times for seemingly insignificant or non-existent reasons whatsoever. Anxiety symptoms can undermine your sense of self-esteem.

You might be undergoing treatment to help you more proactively manage anxiety issues you may be having, learning relaxation skills, and other coping mechanisms to help you in moments of crisis. You might be getting comfortable and feeling more natural in regard to talking to friends, loved ones, your therapist.

These things are definitely the first components of a viable strategy in your treatment, but sometimes having something tangible, like a relaxation tool, or listening to calming music, or taking a long, hot bath can be just what you need to get you through to your next moment of calm.

None of these tangibles should be considered cure-alls, and you should always consult with a mental health professional if you are really in need of help. However, in the meantime, below is a list of fun tools, gadgets, and items that can give you an extra edge in confronting your own anxiety, and in feeling more content, energized, and calm.

Headspace app: Learn the pleasures and benefits of mindful meditation, made simple (free, AppleAndroid). Features hundreds of themed sessions on a wide range of topics, like stress, sleep, focus, and anxiety. Also: an assortment of brief guided meditations for when you’re a bit too busy to slow down for long, and emergency meditation/breathing exercises, in case you suddenly go into crisis mode.



Tea, anyone? Discover a new favorite, natural relaxation tea, starting with Traditional Medicinals Organic Nighty Night Valerian Relaxation Tea, ($4.82, Amazon).

Or, try the Tension Tamer herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings for a relaxing dip into soothing mint and lemongrass ($5.40, Amazon).


Feeling hip? Start a new trend with your new handy Maroamlife Lava Stone Diffuser portable aromatherapy bracelet ($7.99, Amazon). You can add a couple of drops of your preferred  essential oil to your bracelet, rubbing the oil into the stones. The anxiety-calming scent will follow you around while you’re out and about, keeping your mind at ease.


Do you grind your teeth at night and wake up feeling stressed and agitated? Pick up a 10-pack of Plackers disposable Grind No More Night Guard for your teeth. Plackers brings you the first disposable and ready-to-use night tooth guard, offering a cost-effective solution for you – comfortable, hygienic, and protective. No cutting, molding, or boiling required.One size fits all, Plackers can be worn on upper or lower teeth. Can be used for three days, then conveniently disposed of ($13.78, Amazon).


Go Zen! Overwhelmed? Anxious? Frazzled? Try WellPath Zen, featuring a natural mix of adaptogens, herbs, and vitamins shown to support stress relief ($15.85, Amazon).




Want to create a warm, relaxing, stress-free environment? Use VicTsing wood grain diffuser and cool mist humidifier, 300 ml ($27.99, Amazon).




Try it with this “aromatherapeutic” set of essential oils, which includes calming and relaxing scents like lavender, tea trea, eucalyptus, and frankincense ($16.95, Amazon). Check it out here.



When was the last time you had a nice, hot, fizzy bath? Try these 5 oz handmade bath bombs ($18.04, Amazon), and let them take you away!



Acupressure is an “in” thing! You wouldn’t think it by looking at it, but this Nayoya spiked mat and pillow ($39.97, Amazon) are designed to relieve your neck, back, and shoulders when you’re in pain.  Using them consistently can also help you sleep better, improve your circulation, and take the edge off of everyday life and anxiety. Residual side effects of using this acupressure mat includes better sleep, circulation, and relief from stress and anxiety. What are you waiting for? Take a look here!

Your blanket needs more weight. You may not have known it, but heavy, weighted0 blankets, like the 12 lb. polyester Brookstone Nap Weighted Blanket ($94.89, Amazon), have been shown to promote better sleep, and to reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a big, warm hug.



Or, look into the super-soft microfiber 48″ x 72″, 20lb. Gravity Blanket, otherwise known as the original weighted blanket ($249.00, Amazon).




Concerned about anxiety issues? Not to worry. It is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.


5 Things You Should Know About Psychotic Depression

psychotic depression symptoms and treatment

Image courtesy of

Psychotic depression (also known as major depression with psychotic features) is a very serious form of disorder characterized by delusional thinking affected by mood swings and observable changes in cerebral tissue. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of people with severe depression will eventually develop symptoms of psychosis. It is considered to be underdiagnosed and undertreated, though scientific knowledge and awareness regarding this form of depression have been on the rise in recent years due to advances in research.

Psychotic depression is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-V as a subclassification of major depressive disorder. One key optic the disorder exhibits is a combination of depressed mood with psychosis, typically in the form of persistent and morbid hallucinations or delusions.

Psychosis: the Lowdown

What is psychosis? Psychosis can occur in the form of an episode or a condition in which an individual cannot clearly distinguish between what is real and what is imagined.

A “psychotic break” occurs when an individual experiences an episode of acute psychosis after a significant symptom-free period, though more typically for the very first time. This psychotic break may or may not be related to depression. Similarly, a psychotic disorder, or delusional disorder, can occur independently of or in relation to a depressive disorder.

Psychotic, or psychosis, symptoms typically develop after the patient has had several bouts of severe depression without psychosis. Once psychotic symptoms have manifested themselves, they tend to reappear with each future depressive episode.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder should become educated in psychotic depression to better understand what they might need to be on the watch for. Here are five things to be aware of.

  1. Misdiagnosis of psychotic depression is often a result of clinicians’ lack of recognition of pertinent psychotic symptoms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Close to one-third of observed misdiagnoses in one study most commonly misdiagnosed psychotic depression as major depressive disorder without psychotic features. Other misdiagnoses included depression not otherwise specified (NOS), or mood disorder Surprisingly, none of the misdiagnosed individuals were considered to have any psychotic disorder whatsoever. This appears to suggest that the diagnosing mental health professionals were completely missing the psychosis rather than the mood disorder.
  2. Major depressive disorder (including psychotic depression) and dysthymia (persistent depression) can “play off” of one another to create what is known as “double depression.” When dysthymia is present, a major depressive or depression-related psychotic episode can end, but an individual will revert to his or her normal, chronic level of persistent depression. Without proper treatment for double depression, the individual is likely going to continue relapsing into double depression.
  3. Psychotic depression and bipolar disorder have shown signs of being interrelated. A family history of bipolar disorder has been shown to be a risk factor for psychotic depression but not for non-psychotic depression. Research has indicated that individuals with psychotic depression (particularly those diagnosed at an early age), may have a higher risk than non-psychotic depressed individuals of later developing bipolar disorder. Those related to individuals with psychotic depression are also at higher risk of developing bipolar disorder than relatives of those with nonpsychotic depression.
  4. Hallucinations vs. Delusions. Hallucinations are more typically visual or auditory, though they may also be olfactory (smell) or tactile (touch). Delusions may or may not be tied in with an individual’s depressive mood (mood-congruent delusions vs. mood-incongruent delusions). Mood-congruent delusions might involve overwhelming feelings of inferiority, illness, severe guilt, or deserving of punishment. Mood-incongruent delusions might involve heightened, artificial feelings of grandeur, despite a depressive mood (you may have heard the term “delusions of grandeur”). About half of those coping with psychotic depression experience more than one kind of delusion, usually without any hallucinations.
  5. It is common among those with psychotic depression to also experience severe anhedonia, or the inability to take pleasure in activities that are commonly considered to be pleasurable. Social anhedonia is a pronounced lack of interest in social contact, and decreased pleasure in social situations. Physical anhedonia is an inability to feel sensory pleasures in regard to eating, touching, or sex. Psychomotor retardation (a slowing down of cognitive processes and significantly slowed physical movements) is another common symptom of psychotic depression.

Needless to say, psychotic depression can be dangerous to someone. If you suspect that you or someone you love might be having a psychotic episode, or worse, might become suicidal or exercise poor judgment that could end up being dangerous for anyone, get help as quickly as possible. If you are protecting a loved one, avoid a confrontation and secretly hide car keys, guns, alcohol, and any drugs, prescription or illegal, that could possibly result in an overdose. If a situation becomes urgent, you may need to call 911 and request a “mental health check.”

Are you or someone you know dealing with hallucinatory experiences in addition to depressive symptoms? It doesn’t have to get into crisis mode before professional help is sought. Arrange a visit to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.