Can sugar withdrawal lead to depression? (+Understanding how it works)

This article will explain how sugar withdrawal can impact a person. It will show if it can cause them to become depressed, and why this happens. Aside from that, the article will show what are ways to handle sugar withdrawal.

Can sugar withdrawal lead to depression?

Yes, experiencing sugar withdrawal can severely impact your mood. When you eat sugar, the part of your brain that is responsible for the reward system is activated. This leads you to experience a high of dopamine. But when you cut sugar out of your diet, you may face reduced levels of this neurotransmitter.

The lower levels of it are often related to cases of depression, which can explain why, once you are not having sugar anymore, you can feel depressed. But that is not the only thing that can happen when you cut off sugar. Let’s understand more about how sugar withdrawal makes you feel.

Why do people experience sugar withdrawal? 

Nowadays trying to avoid sugar is a hard task. It seems to be everywhere. It is not only part of the sweets, but it has also been put on processed food to make it more tasteful, and it is present in all forms of carbohydrates.

But consuming too much sugar can lead to many health concerns. It is not only a matter of gaining weight, although obesity has become a source of concern all over the world. Too much sugar can lead to heart conditions, diabetes, and problems in your teeth.

Aside from that, when you eat too much sugar you can have a lower level of energy, causing you to feel fatigued, be less aware as the day progresses, and even lead to depression. So cutting back on sugar seems to be a healthy decision. But it is not an easy one. 

Once you decide to quit sugar, you may experience a lot of negative feelings. That happens because sugar can be highly addictive. When you have it, it activates your reward system, which makes you want to have more and more of the food or drink you are having. 

Studies have shown how when you have sugar the area of your brain that is stimulated, the nucleus accumbens, is the same one that gets stimulated when you do drugs, which highlights how addictive sugar is. 

And in the same way as drugs, when you have too much sugar it alters your brain in a way that makes you tolerant of it.

This is what makes you need more and more intake of sugar to experience that same rush of dopamine as you had the time before. And people’s intake of sugar is extremely high. Nowadays it is believed that the average American consumes between 22 and 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.

This is a lot more than the daily recommended, which should be 6 teaspoons for women, and 9 teaspoons for men. And that is why when you stop eating sugar, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

What are other signs of sugar withdrawal?

Sugar withdrawal not only leads to depression. It can have other mental and physical symptoms. The symptoms of it may vary from one person to the next according to their sugar intake. These can go on from a few days to a couple of weeks, as your body adjusts to the lower intake of sugar and stops craving it.

Aside from depression, when you stop consuming sugar you can become more anxious, which can make you more irritable, and feel unable to relax. Sometimes it can even make you feel on the edge. 

The lower consumption of sugar can also change your sleeping patterns. To some people, this may mean they will have trouble falling asleep, while others may feel more tired and sleepy. It can also affect your ability to focus, and memorize things. 

And as said before, when you are having less sugar, you may feel extreme cravings. And since you are not having sweets or sugary drinks, you may feel the need to eat food that has sugar, such as carbohydrates. This may cause you to crave bread, rice, and pasta, for example.

Aside from that, sugar withdrawal can lead you to feel lightheaded, and even dizzy. And in some cases can even cause nausea. And even though those feelings may be hard to experience, if you understand this is the right choice for you, keep in mind these symptoms will be gone soon.

What are ways to cope with sugar withdrawal? 

If you are experiencing symptoms of sugar withdrawal there are some things you can do to make this moment less unbearable. Let’s discuss what they are.

Keep your goals realistic

If you have realized you are taking too much sugar, you may decide to stop. But try to do so in a realistic manner. It is better that you go through it in a progression manner than try to cut it off completely and find it hard to go on for a prolonged period. 

A good way to do that may be cutting out of your life one manner of sugar intake at a time. So you can first take off sugary drinks, and as you observe you are going well without those, you can take another thing out, for example, chocolate. 

This will allow the symptoms of withdrawal to be less intense, and for you to keep this process for longer.

Focus on high protein foods and fiber 

As you are restricting your diet from one point, you should make it better from another. Having high levels of protein and fiber foods will improve your energy level, make you feel more fulfilled, and stay clear of cravings.

High protein foods such as eggs, beans, and nuts will help with the cravings and keep you energized. High fiber foods such as broccoli and pumpkin seeds will help you feel more fulfilled, and keep your blood sugar levels stable, which can prevent cravings. 

Drink lots of water 

If you stopped having sugary drinks, keep having lots of water. It will help your body to function better, especially your bowel. Along with that, changing from sugary drinks to water can reduce your cravings.

Skip artificial sweeteners 

If you think artificial sweeteners may be a good idea when you are cutting back on sugar, you may want to think that over. To some people, using them can lead to metabolic changes that can make them crave sugar even more. So you may want to reduce sweet foods in all ways.

Be careful with stress 

People usually use sweets as a way to feel better when they are going through a stressful situation. If that is your case, while you are cutting sugar, you may want to find ways of not getting so stressed. You may go for a walk, or spend time doing something you love to help you manage it.


Exercising is also a great way to manage your stress level, but it also makes you feel more energetic. With that, you can experience less of those cravings that come from stress it doesn’t need to be a long exercise, sometimes even going on a 15-minute walk is beneficial. 

Sleep well 

If you don’t sleep well, you may experience more cravings. That is because sleep deprivation affects your hormone levels, especially the ones related to appetite regulation, making you crave more sugar. A good night of sleep will also improve your stress level, your concentration, and memory.

Eat bitter food 

As you feel the need for something sweet, you may want to try having some bitter food such as coffee, and arugula. This will reduce the craving.

Keep motivated

And one of the most important things is to keep yourself motivated. Keep in mind why you are doing this, and this will help you deal with the hard times. Maybe writing down your end goal will help you keep focused.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Can sugar withdrawal lead to depression? 

Can quit sugar reverse aging?

No, if you stop having sugar, it won’t reverse the effects aging has had on you. But what it does, is it slows the process of what would happen from then on. That is because the consumption of sugar can speed up your aging process.

So you should stop having sugar as a part of your diet considering how you want to look and feel in the future.

What else happens in my body when I stop eating sugar?

Once you stop eating sugar, you may experience many benefits. You may begin to lose weight, and your risk of diabetes will be lower. You will feel more energetic, and brighter. Your skin will also improve, and you may have a lot less acne than before.

Your breath will be better and probably won’t get sick as often as you did before. Your teeth will be healthier, and you may notice an increase in your libido. And finally, not eating sugar will make you sleep better.

Why does sugar give me anxiety?

The anxiety you may feel when you have sugar is usually related to the sugar levels in your blood. When they go down, you may become anxious because there will be a rush of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. Sometimes this may even lead to panic attacks.

Does sugar release a rush of dopamine or serotonin?

When you eat sugar, you get a rush of dopamine. This neurotransmitter that is related to the reward system is what will make you want to have sugar again and again, and always need more to reach the same level of pleasure.

What happens when I stop eating sugar for a month?

In the first few days, and sometimes even weeks after you have stopped eating sugar, you can experience symptoms of withdrawal. But after a month, the symptoms of withdrawal will most likely have ended and you will start to get the benefits from not having sugar as a part of your diet.

You will feel you lost weight, your energy will feel different, and your sex drive may increase. You will also feel the difference in your skin and will have less acne. Once you hit this mark, you may want to ask yourself if it is worth it to go back to having sugar, and how you can keep this healthier and balanced life.


This article explained why sugar withdrawal can lead to depression. And what are other conditions people can experience as they are cutting off sugar. Not only that, but the article also showed what are ways that people can cope with sugar withdrawal.

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