Can oatmeal be helpful to people with depression?

This article will discuss if eating oatmeal can be helpful to people with depression. The article will also explain why this can be true. Finally, the article will discuss what are ways you can introduce oatmeal as a part of your diet to help you when you are depressed.

Can oatmeal be helpful to people with depression? 

Yes, oatmeal can be extremely helpful when you are dealing with depression. There are many benefits to it, but the main one is that oatmeal is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. These can increase your serotonin levels.

The low levels of these neurotransmitters are often associated with a depressive episode. So as a consequence of increasing the levels of serotonin, you will feel an improvement in your mood and your depressive state.

Food with tryptophan not only improves your mood, but also improves your learning ability, your memory, cognition, and even aggression. Showing how it can act on multiple fronts of your depression. 

This substance is only found in food, so you may want to have oatmeal and other foods that are rich in it to help you cope with depression.

So you know how much tryptophan you are getting, when a person has half a cup of rolled oats, they will ingest 147 milligrams of tryptophan, as for a cup of oat bran, it will give you 285 milligrams of the amino acid.

Aside from tryptophan, there are other benefits to having oatmeal when you are depressed. It is also a great source of fiber, which will preserve your energy levels, and prevent you from feeling sluggish or lethargic during the day. 

Oatmeal is also rich in protein, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and both iron, and selenium, which will both help improve the person’s mood.  Aside from that, it is rich in vitamin B, which also helps in the synthesis of serotonin, and another neurotransmitter called dopamine.

This neurotransmitter is responsible for your reward system, and your levels of motivation. Low levels of dopamine are also often related to depression, so in caring for those, you may also improve your depressive state.

How can I add oatmeal to my diet?

You can add oatmeal as a part of your breakfast. What you need to keep in mind is that you can make oatmeal with both rolled oats, and oat bran, but the more processed the oats, the less nutritional value it will have. 

Keeping that in mind, you should avoid quick oats, because these tend to be too processed, and have a lot of sugar and flavorings in them. Here are some good oatmeal suggestions.

Overnight oat

Something you can try is to have an overnight oat. Those tend to make it easier for you to have it for breakfast since they will be ready when you wake up. To do that you should add the serving of oats you want and cover it with your favorite milk. 

If you want it to taste a little sweeter, you can add something sweet to it. You can do that by adding honey, agave, sugar, or even maple syrup. You should also add some fruits of your choice to it. When it is done, just let it rest in the fridge, and it will be done for you in the morning.

Oatmeal Porridge

This is another recipe you can do to add oatmeal to your diet. You can take this one as breakfast, the main meal, or even dessert. This preparation usually takes about 15minutes, and it is good for 2 people. 

  • Ingredients:

1teaspoon of cinnamon.

1 cup of whole oatmeal.

2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or honey.

1 tablespoon of cashew or almond butter.

2 cups of coconut milk.

For garnish: Add nuts, honey, and fruits.

  • Instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a pot, and put it over low heat. You should keep stirring the mix all the time until it all turns into a mix. If you notice that it is not being fully cooked, you can add some more coconut oil to the mix.

Once it is good, but it all in a bowl, and you can add the garnish as you please. Make it as appealing and tasteful for you as possible. When you are depressed, your appetite will change, so you must find some pleasure in eating. 

Oatmeal bread

If you don’t like those forms of having oatmeal, you can have it as bread. Here is how you can do it.

  • Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup molasses

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons shortening

1 cup boiling water

2 packages yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/4 cups milk (scalded)

5 cups sifted flour


  • Instructions

The first thing to do is to mix the oatmeal, molasses, salt, and shortening in a big bowl. You should then add the water, mix it and let it rest until it is warm. While you wait, you can soften the yeast also in warm water.

When the milk is warm, add 1 ½ cups of flour and beat this until it is mixed. When it is ready, add the rest of the flour to make the dough firm.

When you reach that stage, let the dough rise on a floured board for about 10 minutes, and then knead until it is elastic. When it is done, put it into a greased bowl and shape it as loaves of bread that you will leave in a greased loaf pan to rise until it is doubled.

Put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 50 minutes, and when it is done, brush the top with butter, and let it sit until it is cool.

Oatmeal cookie

Another way to add oatmeal to your diet is by making oatmeal cookies. 

  • Ingredients

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup  bacon drippings at room temperature

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

4 pieces of bacon, fried and chopped (optional)

6 oz. of chocolate chips (optional)

  • Instructions

The first thing to do for this preparation is to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then in a big mixing bowl, you should add both types of sugars, the egg, and the bacon drippings. When it is mixed, add the oats, the cinnamon, salt, the baking soda, and flour, and mix it well.

That is the moment you may want to add the chocolate chips and the chopped bacon. When it is all mixed, shape the dough into a cookie form, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them for 10 minutes, or until it is done.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Can oatmeal be helpful to people with depression? 

What foods I should avoid if I have depression?

If you have depression, there are some foods you should avoid. The first of them is caffeine because it can impact your sleeping patterns, especially if you drink it during the night. Alcoholic drinks should also be avoided, since they may make you feel better at the moment, but after that, your symptoms of depression can become worse.

Try to not have so much processed food, which has a hugely detrimental effect on your mental health. White bread, which is usually highly processed, should be avoided, in the same way as too much sugar. It can put you on a sugar high, and when you come down, your depression may be worse. 

Gluten can also harm your mental health because it can harm your brain. And energy drinks can also have a bad effect on your mental health.

What foods can help me when I am depressed?

If you are depressed, know that food can have an impact on how you feel. Although sometimes they can make you feel worse, some types of food may improve how you feel. 

An example of that is smart carbs which can have a soothing effect on you. Try to have more complex carbs, for example, whole grains. You may also have fruits and vegetables that are rich in carbs.

Food that has a high level of protein such as turkey, tuna, and chicken is rich in something called tryptophan, which helps in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making you feel good. But if you don’t eat meat, you can also get it from low-fat cheese, peas, and milk.

You should also have food that is rich in selenium since that can improve your mood. For that, you should consume beans and legumes, and have lean meat such as turkey or skinless chicken, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds.

What are things I can do to improve my mood?

If you are feeling low, know that there are some things you can do to improve your mood. Try to sleep well, and wake up early so you can organize your affairs and have a productive day. Be around people you love, and that you all laugh together.

You can write in a journal about how you feel, this is especially good for days you don’t feel so well. Exercise, even if it is just a short walk, which can help you calm down. Caring for the space you live in is also a good way to feel good.

And doing things you love such as listening to music or watching a show can lift your spirits. Caring for yourself, with a massage, or doing a skincare routine, may help you feel better about yourself as well.

Does depression have a cure?

No, depression doesn’t have a cure, mental health professionals say that depression goes into remission. That is because it is impossible to affirm, due to its genetic background, that a person will never get depressed again.

But once a person is in remission, they will be able to feel joy again and regain interest in things. Aside from that, you will be able to have better control of your emotions. What you should keep in mind is that, even in remission, you should keep caring for your mental health as a way to prevent future relapse.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety?

The 3 3 3 rule for anxiety is a strategy the person may use to center themselves when they feel too anxious. In it, the person will first name 3 things they see, then 3 things they hear, and finally, they will name 3 body parts. By the end of it, the person will feel calmer.


This article centered around the benefits oatmeal can have for people that are depressed. It explained how eating it can affect a person’s mood, and what are ways to introduce it to your diet.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


Oatmeal Porridge for Depression Patients

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