The article provides information on hunger and depression and the relationship between them.
The symptoms of depression may be both eating too much and not eating enough. It will help you to control the relationship between depression and your appetite.
Depression is a sense of sorrow that doesn’t go away for two weeks or longer and continues to interfere with the day-to-day ability to work. A shift in how much you consume is one of the most common symptoms of depression. This means a lack of appetite for some individuals with depression, while for others, the amount you eat can increase.
Hunger and Depression: Understanding the relation
“Loss of appetite can be an early sign of depression or a warning of a depression relapse. On the other hand, some people can’t stop eating when they are depressed,” says Gary Kennedy, MD, director of geriatric psychiatry at the Bronx, New York, Montefiore Medical Center. “A sudden change in weight, either gaining or losing, can be a warning of depression, especially in someone who has other symptoms of depression or a history of depression.”
Other signs of depression, such as exhaustion and a sense of enjoyment from sports, may be linked to changes in your eating habits. “Many people with depression lose both energy and interest. This can include a loss of interest in eating,” says Dr. Kennedy. This can be particularly true for elderly people with depression, who may lose interest in cooking and cannot prepare meals. Nausea may be a sign of their depression for others and a cause of lack of appetite.
Although a common symptom of depression is a lack of appetite, feelings of sadness or worthlessness can make some people overeat. Depression can also lead to emotional eating, a common occurrence in which physical appetite is not correlated with the desire to eat,” says Debra J. Johnston, RD, manager of culinary services at Remuda Ranch, an eating disorder treatment center in Wickenburg, Ariz. “Instead, in response to emotional hunger, emotional eating is eating. When patients eat in response to their emotions, they are soothed by the emotions.
Maintaining a balance between hunger and depression
You could be able to handle depression by continuing to adhere to your daily eating habits as well as eating a balanced diet. “There is no depression diet that will cure or prevent clinical depression, but there is research to show that some diets are better than others for depression,” Kennedy says. These nutrition tips can help:
Diet rich in fruits
There is some evidence to support the reduction of the risk of depression with a Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in vegetables, nuts, legumes and olive oil and low in saturated fats.
The Fatty Acids in Omega-3
In cold-water fish, these substances are present and are important in brain function. Some studies suggest that they may improve the response of an individual to antidepressant medications.
Nutrients and vitamins
Research shows that nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and tryptophan can adversely affect mood. As a consequence, poor nutrition resulting from loss of appetite may worsen depression further.
You may want to discuss your eating habits with a dietitian. “A dietitian can help someone with depression by creating a nutritionally balanced meal plan that takes into account the patient’s individual needs,” says Johnston. The depressed patient, for example, does not have the energy or motivation to cook a meal. The dietitian may take this into account and develop meals that use foods that are easy to prepare. People with extreme depression who have a lack of appetite will require dietary supplements to help avoid weight loss and nutrient deficiency.
Things to keep in mind while maintaining a balance between hunger and depression:
Soothe your senses
In addition to food, find other ways to relax your body, such as taking a hot bath, wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, or sipping hot tea.
Tune in to your hunger
Fain suggests pausing and asking yourself when you think you feel hungry: am I still hungry, or do I feel something else? You may find that it is not a cookie or a bag of chips that you crave, but a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend or a loved one.
Eat a diverse diet
Depression can be made worse by nutritional deficiencies. Focus on consuming several foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and milk products that are low in fat. Consider visiting a nutritionist who can build for you easy, nutritious meal plans.
Improve your energy
Look for energy-giving things, such as walking, playing with your dog, or listening to music. You’ll be less likely to overeat and make bad food decisions when you do something that brightens your attitude and enhances your mood.
Hunger and depression: Things to avoid
Here are three common ways that psychiatric depression can influence your eating habits and tips with the aid of your doctor or therapist on how to start making healthy choices:
Using food to provide you comfort
Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW, a licensed psychotherapist in Concord, Mass. and author of The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Method to Lose Weight through Loving-Kindness, says: ‘People with depression also use food to self-medicate.’ “To enhance or avoid negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as sadness, shame and self-loathing, they may eat.”
When they’re sad, many people crave carbs or relaxing comfort foods, like ice cream and cake. One theory for this is that foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar boost serotonin levels, a mood-elevating brain chemical.
“Eating foods high in sugar and fat in the short term may make you feel calmer and cared for,” says Fain. “But a steady diet of comfort foods in the long term can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues.”
Reduced eating quantity
Most individuals discover their appetite decreases when they feel poor. They end up accidentally losing weight in some instances. They have less appetite for food and tend to miss meals,” says Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, a registered dietician in New York and a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “They also sleep through meals.
Albers says that when you’re stressed, you can feel like you do not have the strength or energy to eat. Stress can also play a role in lowering your appetite, too. “When you are anxious, worried, or feel hopeless, food is not as appealing,” she says.
But not eating enough will make you more sensitive and irritable, which can make depression worse.
Eating whatever is readily available
When you’re tired and lacking motivation, shopping for and preparing nutritious meals can seem overwhelming. As a consequence, you may reach for foods that are easy but not especially healthy, and in your diet you may not get enough variety.
Sudeepta Varma, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says: ‘Depressed people frequently end up eating fast food or something they have on hand in their kitchen, such as their last box of cookies.
For people with depression, it is often easy to get into a rut of consuming the same things all the time. It is so difficult for them to work that they are searching for order and routine. Every morning, they can stop and get a bagel and cream cheese and never try anything different,” Nolan says.
Another aspect, Varma says, is that depressed individuals also have problems with attention, memory, and decision making. “This can make simple tasks seem overwhelming, so for three meals a day, they might eat a bowl of the same type of cereal,” she says.
Consulting a doctor for a change in hunger and depression
See your primary care doctor or a mental health provider if you have had depressive symptoms for over two weeks and they interfere with your daily functioning. Tell your doctor during the consultation whether there have been improvements in your weight or appetite. Usually, the most common depression recovery strategy involves counseling, antidepressant medication, or a combination of both.
There are various signs in different individuals with depression, but a drastic drop in appetite is a common indicator of depression that should not be overlooked. Here are warning signs for which you should tell your doctor:
- A change in appetite and other symptoms, such as depression, remorse, lack of interest in things that you once loved, sleep changes, or digestive symptoms such as constipation or nausea
- Eating to stop worrying about your concerns or ignoring your thoughts or eating even though you are not hungry
- Any change in eating habits or a major change in your weight, especially if you have a history of anxiety. Kennedy warns, “People with depression can experience severe weight loss that can be dangerous to their physical health,”
- Some thoughts of death or suicide; tell your doctor immediately if this occurs.
The article provided information on hunger and depression and the relationship between them.
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.
FAQs: Hunger and Depression: Understanding the relation
Does depression make you hungry?
Mental health problems can also lead to appetite changes and overeating, such as depression and stress. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience excessive ongoing hunger. Your doctor might refer to hyperphagia or polyphagia as your increased appetite.
Does hunger affect mood?
The researchers found that while they were not specifically concentrated on their own emotions, hungry people reported greater negative emotions, such as feeling depressed and hateful.
Can not eating enough cause depression?
In reducing your appetite, stress may play a role. “When you are anxious, worried, or feel hopeless, food is not as appealing,” she says. But not eating enough will make you more sensitive and irritable, which can make depression worse.
Why do I get emotional when hungry?
It is not entirely clear why this occurs, but MacCormack suggests it may have to do with the fact that when a person experiences hunger, the same parts of the brain-the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, and amygdala-are stimulated as when they experience heightened emotional states such as frustration.
Can depression make you gain weight?
People with depression or anxiety may experience weight gain or weight loss due to their condition or the drugs that treat them. Overeating, bad food habits, and a more sedentary lifestyle may all be associated with depression and anxiety. Weight gain can gradually lead to obesity over time.
Does depression cause hair loss?
Depression and hair loss are related, and depression sufferers may find that hair can become dry, brittle, and can easily split. Depression physiological states such as low mood, discouragement, low self-esteem and feeling exhausted may be a factor in reducing the phase of hair development, leading to loss of hair.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.