Ice cream helps with depression (yes or no?)

In this guide, we will talk about how ice cream helps with depression and related studies that are done to understand the correlation between ice cream and depression.

Ice cream has always been seen as comfort food for when we feel sad, be it after a bad break up or after losing a job. Ice cream is the go-to food that makes us happy. But does ice cream help us?

Ice cream helps with depression

Here is a list of possible explanations for how ice cream helps with depression:

  • Brings back happy memories
  • We treat ice cream as a reward
  • Advertisements make us believe ice cream helps
  • Cultural influence plays a role
  • Seen as a self-care routine
  • Seen as a coping mechanism
  • Ice cream releases brain chemicals that make us hungry
  • Provides us comfort
  • Reduces stress levels in us
  • Source of vitamins
  • Source of minerals
  • Gives us energy

Brings back happy memories

Food psychologist Jen Bateman describes that because it stirs up nostalgia, one reason we rely on ice cream. Relevant cravings are always correlated in our history with memories of certain foods. In the here and now, people who were offered ice cream as a distraction when upset or had positive ice cream associations in the past are more likely to crave it.

We treat ice cream as a reward

Ashley Gearhardt, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and a clinical psychologist, researches the Quick (Food Addiction Science and Treatment) Lab at the university. Her emphasis is on the correlation between highly processed junk foods and whether addictive properties similar to cigarettes and intoxicating drinks are caused by them. “Our brains are set up to find rewarding things that are highly caloric.” Ice cream has two of the ingredients we’re programmed to react to with a big reward: fat and sugar. In mass-producing these hyper-rewarding foods, we got so sweet. It’s not all chocolate right now the ice cream that does this for us. It’s chocolate with marshmallow bits and ripples of fudge in it.

While one study indicates that ice cream makes people happier, Gearhardt listed a 2012 study reported by Kyle S. Burger and Eric Stice in which they found that people obtained minimal satisfaction from the treatment. They researched individuals who consumed chocolate milkshakes dependent on ice cream. The researchers ran fMRIs on their brain responses while the participants drank the shake. The conclusion: “Our findings provide new evidence that frequent consumption of ice cream, independent of body fat, is associated with a reduction in human reward-region responsiveness, paralleling the tolerance observed in drug addiction.” 

Advertisements make us believe ice cream helps

After the “high” subsided from the sugar, Gearhardt said that many people felt remorse. You’re not in a great position, you get this one-two punch, you have these emotional memories, you have hoped. ‘Yeah, you’re feeling cranky, and a Snickers or ice cream, that’s what’s going to make you feel better,’ marketing and advertising tell us. We encode this stuff, and it doesn’t quite live up to the hype when you consume it.

Cultural influence plays a role

Gearhardt suggested that women-eating-ice cream could have been rooted in pop culture because males treat depression differently than females. She said If a guy is really sad or something bad happened to him, we see a lot of them going to the bar in culture and drinking it away.” “But for women, this is changing, although there were gender norms that alcohol and other drugs of abuse were not suitable for women to use to cope.”

Jessica Bihuniak, a dietitian and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at New York University, told HuffPost, “Some research indicates that women are more likely to use food to numb, distract and soothe emotions.

“Gearhardt said, “If you’re not able to go to the bar and pour a whiskey and drink the pain away from society, then ice cream is the gender-appropriate option.

Seen as a self-care routine

Healthy foods such as vegetables and fruit can improve moods, but Gearhardt said that engaging in a non-food activity, such as social support, exercise (Olivia Pope from “Scandal” and later season Don Draper from “Mad Men” swam laps) and reading a book, is the best way to treat depression or heartbreak. I don’t think throwing food at you when you’re not hungry would solve the problem. So whether it’s carrots and apples or ice cream, you would probably always feel sad at the end of the day. It’s OK to want to take care of yourself as long as it’s not a problem for people.”

Seen as a coping mechanism

The non-food behavior was mirrored by Bihuniak. “It is usually fine to eat ice cream and it should be enjoyed, but I do not recommend using it as a coping strategy,” she said. To feel satisfied, I don’t believe that people can rely on food. I have discussed using modeling clay or Play-Doh as a mood enhancer in some instances. It can be very satisfying to use our hands creatively.

Ice cream releases brain chemicals that make us hungry

New studies published this month in the journal Nature Neuroscience may shed some light on the biological relationship between appetite and depression. Although it does not demonstrate that Ben and Jerry’s is an antidepressant, it does suggest that it may be a brain chemical that motivates ice cream consumption.

The chemical is called ghrelin, and in the brain and the stomach, it is formed naturally. Researchers who called it based on the Proto-Indo-European word root “ghre” for “grow,” referring to its ability to induce growth hormone, only discovered it in 1999. But it turns out that it is the most potent known appetite stimulant.

For many years, researchers have known that levels of ghrelin increase before meals and in conjunction with hunger. 

Provides us comfort

Researchers at the Southwestern Medical Center of the University of Texas tried to use mice to investigate the mood-food link to ghrelin. It is not intuitively evident that there will be any correlation between the moods of mice and those of individuals. But a relation does seem to be there.

In the “forced swim test.” antidepressant drugs all have predictable results, such as on mice. In this test, mice are forced to swim in a small cylinder from which they can not escape. The mice adopt an immobile pose, effectively giving up trying to escape, after a brief duration of concerted attempts to escape from the water. Giving up is close to being depressed, and the duration of escape operation is increased by antidepressants.

Reduces stress levels in us

The persistent social defeat stress technique is considered another mouse model of depression. It means subjecting one mouse and doing it over and over to a more aggressive bully mouse. The mouse that has been bullied, much like a depressed human, continues to behave withdrawn. Antidepressant therapy reverses this activity.

So, normal mice and mice genetically engineered to be defective in ghrelin signaling were studied by the researchers. They noticed that mice suffering chronic social defeat stress were much more withdrawn without ghrelin signaling than they were normally, implying, again that ghrelin exerted an antidepressant-like impact. It is an interesting formulation. Stress makes us angry and feels tired. Ghrelin picks some of us back up and makes us hungry as well and then we eat ice cream. And then we equate feeling better with ice cream.

Source of vitamins

Although eating ice cream will physically and emotionally affect your body, it is a good source of vitamins. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E are given in ice cream. Surprisingly, there is vitamin K in ice cream, which is believed to prevent blood clotting. Ice cream is also a great source of dietary supplements such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, apart from these vitamins.

Source of minerals

Ice cream is a perfect source of minerals, including calcium and phosphorus, much like other milk foods. The phosphorus in ice cream helps keep ladies from getting PMS and mood swings. On the other side, calcium helps keep the bones strong and balanced. It also helps to reduce the risks of kidney stone growth.

Gives us energy

Ice cream is not only a healthy source of nutrients, but it also provides an excellent source of energy. Ice cream contains fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that are responsible for enhancing the energy of an individual. Ice cream, though, needs to be consumed in moderation, as it can help you gain a few extra pounds.

In case you have depression, you reach out to mental health professionals for it. 

In this guide, we talked about how ice cream helps with depression and related studies that are done to understand the correlation between ice cream and depression.

FAQs: Ice cream helps with depression

Is ice cream good for depression?

Some depression patients will eat a pint of ice cream from Ben and Jerry at night before they go to bed. They feel comforted by the high-calorie treat — at least momentarily. It doesn’t take too many nights of this before the pounds start to pile up of course.

Does ice cream cause depression?

Indulging in the wrong foods may make the symptoms of depression worse. You could take comfort in the ice cream that you stored in the freezer, and eat the whole container in one sitting space. The problem with going on a sugar binge is that it can cause a crash, and it can make your mood worse than it was before you pigged out.

Why does ice cream help sadness?

High-fat foods can activate chemicals in the body that produce a sense of contentment and fulfillment, such as ice cream. In reality, when you feel frustrated, this almost addictive quality can make you reach for these foods again.

Why do I feel better after eating ice cream?

There is protein and fat in ice cream, all of which our bodies need to help regulate our moods. Also, the amino acids that you consume while consuming ice cream, such as tryptophan, are known to increase the development of serotonin. This leaves us feeling relaxed, content, and happy.

Can Ice Cream change your mood?

Eating yourself happy with ice cream or chocolate can not necessarily improve your mood, contrary to what we may assume. Irrespective of what food we eat, we can simply feel better after some time, researchers say. They were even asked to choose foods they wanted but felt that their mood could not be uplifted.

Does ice cream relieve stress?

Ice cream activates thrombotonin, which is a happiness hormone, which helps alleviate the body’s stress levels. Ice cream consists of milk containing L-triptophane, a natural tranquilizer that helps to calm the nervous system.


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