While everyone is different, some people who are struggling with depression are prone to overeating as a comfort mechanism to lift their mood. Others, however, find themselves too worn out to devote time to preparing nutritious meals. There are also some people who simply lose their appetite (I fall into this category when I’m upset).
Psychiatrists have stated that people who might end up in a vicious cycle, whereby the feelings of hopelessness brings about bad dietary habits, which then leads to even worse depression. One of the ways to remove yourself from that cycle is to engage with someone and talk about it.
While that is important, so is knowing the food-related traps that lurk around the corner. Here are three bad habits that often emerge when you are depressed.
One – Comfort eating.
We have all heard of this one before. Some sufferers of depression use food as a form of self-medication. And this makes sense. Eating is a way of distracting yourself from other emotions, such as shame, self-loathing or sadness.
People who undertake comfort eating tends to crave carbohydrates, and this is because foods that are high in sugar will cause an increase in serotonin levels, which results in a better mood. Obviously this may feel good in the short term, but in the long-term, weight gain and the associated illnesses and disease will follow.
Two – Eating whatever happens to be around
When one is depressed, it is almost impossible to plan proper cooking and meal preparation. Of course, when this happens, a hungry and depressed person will reach for whatever is available at that time. Chances are that these will end up being unhealthy high-calorie snack items, as well as convenient fast food, which we know is not healthy for us in the long-term. Furthermore, those who suffer depression can end up eating the same food time and time again and never try anything different.
Three – Eating too little
Yep, I fall cleanly into this category. Some people find that they simply have no appetite when they are upset, and this leads to unintentional weight loss. Although I do not suffer from clinical depression, I know that when I was going through periods of grief, my weight went down effortlessly.
However, people who want to lose weight should not rejoice at this fact. While it might seem like a good thing on the surface, eating too little can make people irritable and sensitive, and this can actually worsen your depression and make your mood worse. I can attest to this firsthand.
If you suffer from depression, I strongly urge you to seek professional help before it spins out of control. Although I do not know firsthand, I believe that self-medication is ineffective and risky. While you are seeking help, pay attention to your dietary habits as well. It’ll do you a world of good.
Resources for helping overcome your depression:
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