Depression and fasting (A complete guide)

In this article, we will give a detailed relationship between depression and fasting. The article tries to understand if fasting can help in the treatment of depression. We will give you a list of studies that show that fasting helps in the treatment of depression. In this next section of the blog, we will look at how fasting helps in the treatment or betterment of depression. Dieticians and clinicians have given various theories regarding the same. These few theories have been outlined in the blog. The blog will also give the list of physical befits of fasting. 

Does fasting help in treating depression? 

Yes, it is believed that fasting can help in the treatment of depression. 

The possibility that fasting can help in the treatment of depression is demonstrated by a few logical examinations. Researchers have discovered that the intestinal flora altogether affects temperament. A solid eating routine can hence forestall mental conditions and help facilitate a few indications.

There is proof proposing that high-fat, high-sugar eats less add to gut dysbiosis (adjustments in the intestinal microbiota) and diminished variety of gut vegetation which under normal conditions incorporates in excess of 1000 diverse bacterial species. Enteric dysbiosis in people experiencing the significant burdensome issues (MDD) not just adds to “broken gut” and raised fringe provocative flagging, it might irritate nervousness, discouraged disposition, crabbiness, affectability to stretch, and intellectual issues (remembering for consideration, memory, and chief capacity). In counterdistinction to considers showing unsafe impacts of a “Western eating regimen” on the danger of melancholy, an enormous ongoing meta-examination discovered just a negligible expansion in danger of future burdensome scenes in people with helpless dietary propensities. Nonetheless, a similar report noticed an extremely considerable constructive outcome of a “great eating regimen” on lessening future depression hazard 

Various controlled investigations have set up advantages of dietary directing, psycho-biotics (probiotics), and a Mediterranean/mitigating diet in expanding reduction rates, diminishing fringe provocative signals, and improving the scope of burdensome indications—from depression disposition, anhedonia, psychological troubles, and crabbiness to the enhancement of hypersomnolence and diminished craving.

One early investigation, directed during the 1970s, announced a reduction pace of 86% in depressed patients subject to a somewhat severe system of 10 days of complete fasting. 

Different examinations led in the previous decade found that fasting or calorie limitation in solid volunteers or those with clinical issues demonstrated improved energy levels, improved state of mind, and decreased depressive and anxiety manifestations. 

Another valuable worldview examined is the discontinuous fasting Muslims go through during the long stretch of Ramadan. Studies in these subjects have discovered diminished nervousness, and, in those with bipolar disorder, a decrease of both mania and depressive side effects.

In another study, 8 days of fasting (350 kcal/d) induced significant mood improvement via the polymorphism 

These above-mentioned studies have shown that there is a great relation between depression and fasting. The studies also prove that in addition to antidepressants and psychotherapy even dietary restrictions and limited intake of calories can help in the treatment of depression. 

Even though eating regularly and healthy food is recommended for the treatment of depression, fasting also seems to show some positive effects. 

However, just like there are studies that probe the positive correlation between depression and fasting. There are studies that also indicate that there is no or very minimal relationship between depression and fasting. Some believe that extreme fasting and restriction in calories can harm the neurons instead of doing good. While restriction in calories at a mild level is considered to be useful. 

What is depression? 

Depression is one of the most common psychological disorders characterized by extreme sadness, decreased responsiveness to pleasurable boosts, absence of hunger, sleep deprivation, and even self-destructive aims. 

The monoamine theory recommends that depression results from deviant neurotransmission of serotonin and noradrenaline in the hippocampus just as ensuing hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis initiation. Accordingly, antidepressants, which increment these synapses in the synaptic cleft through impeding the monoamine reuptake or debasement, can evoke energizer adequacy in depression

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Symptoms of depression 

The symptoms of depression usually vary from individual to individual. A few may experience some symptoms while others may not. However, according to the DSM 5, there are a few symptoms that we need to look out for if facing depression. the symptoms of depression are as follows: 

  • Extreme sadness
  • Irritability 
  • Lack of pleasure and interest in any activities 
  • Loss of sleep 
  • Loss of appetite or abnormal increase in eating
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Hopelessness and helplessness 
  • Constant Guilt 
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Agitation 

Causes of depression 

Certain causes of depression include the following: 

  • Family history. You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
  • Early childhood trauma. Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
  • Brain structure. There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
  • Medical conditions. Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Drug use. A history of drug or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.

How does fasting help in treating depression?

Now that we have figured that fasting actually does help in the betterment of depression, the question arises that how does fasting help in treating depression. 

Here are a few potential explanations: 

Calories restriction or dieting refers to reducing the intake of calories by 30 percent while increasing the intake of protein and vitamin, mineral, water intake to maintain proper nutrition. This calorie restriction has gained the attention of various mental health professionals because of it evident effects on the neuroendocrine system and mood condition. Fasting could improve mood, sleep quality, and daytime concentration. Both fundamental and clinical examinations showed that calorie limitation set off the intracellular signaling pathway that includes stress reaction and neuron metabolism.

Reports have found that calorie restriction has lead to decreased negative moods like tension, anger, and confusion and enhance the sense of euphoria. 

It is shown that 10 days of calorie limitation prompted upper like impacts in rat models of sadness, by means of orexin flagging actuation.  Orexin flagging is notable for its different capacities, for example, solidification of excitement, digestion guideline, food admission, and intervening prize reactions. 

Taking care of conduct was found to initiate brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF) and support mind neuronal pliancy, assuming a fundamental part during the time spent neurogenesis [47, 48]. The cerebral glucose decline prompted by calorie limitation likewise advances neurogenesis, neurotrophin union, synapse receptor articulations, and BDNF initiation. BDNF is a neurotrophin that assumes a focal part in the arrangement and pliancy of neuronal organizations. 

Endorphins have been set up to deliver impressions of the absence of pain and feeling of rapture. Studies on the relationship between’s games practice and misery have shown that during moderate exercise the mind goes through eustress, which actuates the endorphin age. The arrival of endogenous endorphins was found in 5-10 days of fasting improved melancholy without critical deficiency of weight.

Ketone assumes a critical part in improving temperament, enhancing torment, and ensuring neurons against hypoglycemia. The upper impacts of calorie limitation may be subject to the expanded creation of ketone.

One especially fascinating hypothesis identifies with the possibility of hormesis: that a somewhat negative upgrade can secure against an ensuing more serious affront. In creatures, intermittent fasting has lead to an increment in brain determined neurotrophic factor, thought to be significant in the impact of antidepressants, expanded neurogenesis (the development of new neurons), upgraded synaptic plasticity, and improved pressure resilience. All in all, it is conceivable that discontinuous fasting is making the minds of these rodents harder and stronger. 

Moreover, fasting for more than 8 days enacts the HPA axis, through diminished accessibility of cerebral glucose, just as diminished leptin levels. Leptin, a chemical got from adipocyte, directs fat tissue mass and energy equilibrium, and protection from it is considered answerable for corpulence. Outstandingly, diminished leptin level was recommended as a basic reaction to starvation and the distorted plasma level of leptin is related to certain temperament issues. It was indicated that changed leptin levels initiated improvement in discouragement. 

In addition to these, there are also a few physical health benefits of calorie restriction and fasting. As indicated by a randomized investigation of calorie limitation, a half year of calorie limitation brought about great physiological modifications, for example, fat appropriation, internal heat level, fasting insulin, T3 and T4, just as ghrelin levels. Today, it has been grounded that calorie limitation creates various advantages to our wellbeing, for example, diminishing the danger of cardiovascular infection, improving insulin affectability in diabetes, reducing oxidative pressure, and upgrading psychological capacities.


In this article, we have given a detailed relationship between depression and fasting. The article tried to understand if fasting can help in the treatment of depression. We have given you a list of studies that show that fasting helps in the treatment of depression. In this next section of the blog, we have also looked at how fasting helps in the treatment or betterment of depression. Dieticians and clinicians have given various theories regarding the same. These few theories have been outlined in the blog. The blog has also given a list of physical befits of fasting. 

FAQs: depression and fasting 

What does fasting do mentally?

In the case of the brain, cognitive function, learning, memory, and alertness are all increased by fasting. And in the body, we recently found that mice maintained on an alternate-day fasting diet during a month of treadmill training have better endurance than mice fed every day.

Does starvation cause depression? 

Confined eating, malnourishment, and exorbitant weight reduction can prompt changes in our brain anatomy, bringing about expanded indications of Depression and anxiety. These adjustments in brain anatomy and poor emotional well-being results in slant reality.

Does fasting stress the body? 

Fasting puts the body under gentle stress, which causes our cells to adjust by improving their capacity to adapt. As such, they become solid. This cycle is like what happens when we stress our muscles and cardiovascular framework during exercise.

Can hunger make you insane?

Yes, hunger affects your mental health. Facing hunger can be stressful. Constantly worrying about where your next meal will come from can cause mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

What are the signs of starvation?

Some signs and symptoms of Stravtaion induce: 
reduced appetite.
lack of interest in food and drink.
feeling tired all the time.
feeling weaker.
getting ill often and taking a long time to recover.
wounds taking a long time to heal.
poor concentration.
feeling cold most of the time.